Asked and Answered: Stopping bad odor from landfill

Asked and Answered: Stopping bad odor from landfill

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It’s described as a sewer-like smell - a smell so bad it wakes you up in the middle of the night.

Residents living around Superior Landfill on Little Neck Road in Chatham County say the landfill and its odors continue to compromise their quality of life. In a WTOC Asked and Answered, we got answers from the company.

The issues coming from this landfill in southern Chatham County are nothing new, but someone reached back out asking why the smell coming from there was so horrible. There is no shortage of trucks coming and going from the superior landfill, but that’s not all that’s leaving the landfill. Don McMillan said the smell gets so bad at his home about a mile away, it wakes him up.

“It comes in the house. It gets in the car. At the end of the day, when the smell is long gone, it’s still in your garage,” McMillan said. “If you haven’t driven your car, it’s still in your car.”

McMillan said the smell permeate their homes and cars - far exceeding the stench you may expect when living near landfill.

“To live near a landfill where they can stop the smell, cover the smell, through different kinds of procedures, they should take those procedures and think about their community,” McMillan said.

A spokesperson for Waste Management says they recently improved their gas collection system. The company also plans to make significant investments in the early part of next year to improve efficiency and cut down on the bad odors.

The company said, unfortunately, weather does impact how far odors travel. WTOC was told employees investigate every odor complaint to figure out if it is possibly coming from the landfill. The best thing to do if you smell something might be to call the landfill’s main phone number at 912.927.6113.

According to the spokesperson, the company meets or exceeds all federal and state regulations.

We asked McMillan what a fair solution would be for him.

“A fair solution would be to know Waste Management is actively doing something to stop the odors from travelling this far,” he said.

A company spokesperson said the capital investments in early 2019 should help that. As always, we’ll follow up and see if things change. Below are the questions and full answers from Waste Management.

1) What measures does the landfill take to make sure they mitigate the impact to surrounding communities and neighborhoods?

This community and our neighbors are very important to us and we work to ensure that any offsite odors caused by the landfill are addressed quickly and effectively.

Every day the landfill operates we check four locations for odors - two on the landfill site and two off-site locations. Our survey consists of categorizing the intensity of the odor, includes a description of the smell and identifies potential reasons for the odor, if the landfill odor is waste or gas, and if the odor could be from a nearby source or activity.

A weather station is located on the top of the landfill and provides wind direction and speed, temperature and barometric pressure. When we receive a potential odor complaint we use the weather station data to verify wind direction and if we are given an address, we determine if it could potentially be from the landfill. If provided with the location of the odor complaint, we drive to the actual address to explore the complaint further. If we do not have the address of the complaint, we will drive in a circular pattern both inside and outside of the landfill to determine if any odors are detected.

We also investigate every odor report we receive thoroughly to determine its potential source, which could include other activities or operations in the area. Superior Landfill developed and utilizes established protocols to monitor for potential odors. If the odor is determined to originate at the landfill, prompt measures are take to address the odor.

We recently received an odor compliant which we investigated together with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The state inspector determined the reported odor was identified at another facility in the area.

In recent months, Superior Landfill invested in facility upgrades to the gas collection system. As part of ongoing landfill operations, we are also planning facility upgrades with additional capital investments in the first quarter of 2019. We are adding a new flare to improve the efficiency of the landfill gas flow and adding additional collection wells

2) What can folks do if they do have a smell to complain about? Citizens can call the landfill's main number at 912-927-6113. Each odor reported is thoroughly investigated to determine source.

3) Some people don’t complain about just the smell. They also complain about poor air quality, itchy throats, etc. Are there EPA guidelines the company follows to make sure they’re not diluting or polluting air quality? Superior Landfill was built to and operates in compliance with the Federal and State regulations designed to ensure safe disposal of all acceptable waste. The site was developed under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which requires rigorous siting evaluation, site characterization and scientific engineering design, as well as a comprehensive permitting and regulatory approval process that includes public notification and comment. RCRA standards also require a range of measures to prevent environmental contamination, including the use of engineered liners and covers, collection and control systems for landfill gas, and collection and treatment systems for leachate (water that accumulates in and filters through waste). Superior Landfill’s environmental testing and reporting is performed by a third party and professionally signed and sealed upon submittal to the state.

4) This area used to be largely rural and unpopulated. That’s changed over the last decade or so. How long has the landfill been there? Are there plans to move it away from the people that are moving to southern Chatham County? I would assume it’s not that easy to “move” a landfill. We have no plans to relocate the landfill. Superior Landfill meets or exceeds all current Federal and State regulations. We take great pride in working and living in this community and maintain our high level of operational excellence. This highly engineered facility provides an essential service for our community.

5) Is there anything abnormal about this landfill or is everything “business-as-usual” out there? Can nearby residents expect the company to change anything to reduce the smell or impact? Superior Landfill meets and / or exceeds all environmental compliance regulations including routine air and water quality monitoring, establishing litter fences, constructing tire wash facilities and conducting odor surveys around the perimeter of the site. If we detect any odor, we immediately take corrective measures to identify and eliminate the source.

Superior Landfill is a part of the Waste Management family of companies and is subject to Waste Management’s rigorous internal standards as well as those imposed by the federal, state and local branches of government. Waste Management fosters a culture of compliance and safety that ultimately benefits not only the Company’s employees and stakeholders, but the communities where it operates.

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