NEW RUSSIA TWP. — Proposed expansion of the Lorain County Landfill got trashed Thursday.
Republic Services Inc., which runs the landfill, wants to increase the landfill’s height from about 150 feet to 240 feet on about 166 acres of the dump’s 279 permitted acres. The 1,400-acre landfill, which opened in 1984 and accepts an average of 4,000 tons of daily waste, is expected to reach capacity by 2028 with current intake. Expansion would allow the dump to operate until 2035.
Several of the approximately 60 residents at a meeting at Township Hall, hosted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said expansion would exacerbate stench from the dump at 43502 Oberlin-Elyria Road. Stench led to a $450,000 fine issued to Republic by the EPA in March. Bio Energy Development Inc., which converts methane gas from the landfill into electricity, was fined $50,000. The fines were in response to 360 neighbor complaints since 2003.
There have been at least 82 complaints since March, according to Clarissa Gereby, an EPA environmental specialist. Gereby said that she investigated the complaints, monitoring smells in the morning, night and weekends.
Gereby said previous complaints were about the smell of methane gas but recent complaints are about the smell of garbage and a perfume-like chemical sprayed to mask the garbage’s smell.
Gereby, who said she investigated 10 times since Sept. 11, said smells were “slight” and “intermittent.” However, some residents questioned Gereby’s sense of smell and how long she spent around the dump.
“The longer you’re (around) that smell, your eyes start burning, and you get a headache,” said Michael Gerhardinger, a farmer who lives and works across from the dump and moved in before it opened. “Smelling it for five minutes, anybody can do that. I have to work out in it all day long.”
Neighbor Melissa Novak said she has regularly gagged from the smell of the chemical and trash.
“It’s horrendous,” she said. “I can’t imagine, once they get above the berm, what it’s going to smell like.”
Concerns were also raised about the stability of the landfill if the height is raised and about whether taxpayers might get stuck with the tab when it eventually closes. Eric VanHouten, a Republic general manager, said the company had been planning an expansion for a few years but couldn’t request it until it addressed neighbor complaints and paid the EPA fine.
“It wasn’t something out of nowhere,” he said.
A decision on whether to grant Republic a draft permit is expected by mid-2014, according to Jerry Parker, an EPA environmental engineer who will recommend a decision to Scott Nally, Ohio EPA director. If a draft permit is granted, another meeting and a public hearing will be held. A final decision would be made by Nally in mid-2015.