Arbor Hills compost too smelly for Detroit

Quote taken from NPR article about Detroit composting sent to Arbor Hills in Salem Twp., Washtenaw County

Compost is too smelly for the city of Detroit so they send it to Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township, Washtenaw County. Children at the two schools flanking the composting facility get to suck on the ammonium nitrate fumes as do residents in the hundreds of homes around the dirty dump and its smelly compost operation.

NPR published a story about Detroit’s yard waste on Aug. 13, 2018. The article is no longer available online. We have a PDF version – CurisiD: Where does Detroit’s yard waste go?

So far this year, Detroit has sent 6,300 tons of yard waste to Advanced Disposal’s Salem Township composting site on the north side of 6 Mile Road. Plymouth, Salem and Northville residents have submitted over 1,000 odor complaints this year as of Aug. 14, 2018.

See maps below to see just how close the two elementary schools are to the smelly compost operation.

Salem Elementary in Washtenaw County is 1 mile west of Arbor Hills Landfill’s compost operation that’s too smelly for Detroit
Ridge Wood Elementary in Wayne County is nearly 1 mile east of Arbor Hills Landfill’s smelly compost operation in Washtenaw County

Gas system in the news

The Northville Record highlighted some of the issues with the gas collection system at Arbor Hills Landfill. Once again, the dump fails to take responsibility for its actions. Our president commented on Advanced Disposal’s expansion plans but those statements didn’t make it into the article.

Arbor Hills landfill owner tries to eliminate nasty odors
Northville Record, Aug. 10, 2018

The gas collection system upgrades are in response to our hard work that led to many Clean Air Act violations and an EPA consent order. The consent order details the work the dump must do to remediate  noxious gas odors.

Washtenaw County’s dump neglected the gas system for years, which contributed to the massive pollution situation that forces families inside when they should be out enjoying their yards, community parks and school play grounds.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us #stopthedump!

Gas system update

The email below was sent by Larry Bean from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality on Aug. 6, 2018:

Last week Advanced Disposal had to shut down the gas collection system at the Arbor Hills Landfill for a couple days to complete the connection of the new pipe infrastructure to the gas plant.  This resulted in an increase of odor detections at that time.  On Thursday the new gas collection system was turned on resulting in a much greater ability to collect gas from the landfill.  It is now pulling more gas out of the landfill than in the past.  The system is functioning to draw the excess gas out of the landfill.  Over the next month, the blowers which pull gas to the flares will be upgraded.  This will help to maintain a proper vacuum in the landfill when the gas plant is shut down.  Over the next couple months the individual gas collection wells on the landfill will be adjusted to tune the system for maximum efficiency of gas collection throughout the landfill.  We expect a significant reduction of odors as a result of this work.

The note below was sent out last Monday by Advanced Disposal notifying all stakeholders that a temporary shut down was needed to complete the work.  You can monitor the work progress and any notices by the facility at the links in the note below.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Note from Bill Tennant on Monday July 30.

All:

We are going to have two system shutdowns at Arbor Hills Landfill for construction and header tie ins this week.

The first tie in will be today at noon and will last until about 17:00.

The next tie in will be tomorrow morning at 08:00 and will last until about 14:00.

The plant and main flares will be down during these tie ins.  The North temp flare will be increased to maximum flow.  There may be some odors related to these system shutdowns.  We are putting alerts on our website as well.

On Wednesday at 08:00 we are going to test the new header and anticipate having full vacuum restored to the north half of the landfill!  This will allow us to put the temp flare in standby mode and send all the gas to the plant.

Please call myself or Anthony if you have any questions.

Bill Tennant | Landfill Gas Program Manager, East Region
10833 West Five Mile Road – Building B | Northville | MI
M: 757.585.8039 | E: Bill.Tennant@AdvancedDisposal.com

Larry Bean
Jackson and Lansing District Supervisor
Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Phone 517-416-4375
BEANL@michigan.gov

Meeting May 30

Join Stop Arbor Hills at 6:30 p.m. on May 30, 2018 at the Northville District Library for an informational meeting. Our board of directors and the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality will offer updates and answer questions.

Meeting challenge

A generous individual has offered to match $1,500 in donations if we can raise that amount before our May 30 meeting.

MDEQ approves permanent flare

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has approved the permit to install a permanent flare at Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc. located at 10690 West Six Mile Road in Salem Township, Mich. The MDEQ announced the approval on April 13, 2018.

The permit approves one 5,000 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) open utility flare to provide additional back-up landfill gas control capacity and operational flexibility. The temporary flare the dump installed this year will be taken offline after the permanent flare is running.

The MDEQ may, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, revoke the permit to Install if evidence indicates the process or process equipment is not performing according to the terms and conditions of the permit or is violating the MDEQ’s rules or the Clean Air Act.

According to the permit certificate: “Operation of this equipment shall not result in the emission of an air contaminant which causes injurious effects to human health or safety, animal life, plant life of significant economic value, or property, or which causes unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property. ”

Arbor Hills Landfill must provide notice to the MDEQ of an abnormal condition, start-up, shutdown, or malfunction that results in emissions of a hazardous or toxic air pollutant which continue for more than one hour in excess of any applicable standard or limitation, or emissions of any air contaminant continuing for more than two hours in excess of an applicable standard or limitation, as required in Rule 912.

 

Violation response

Advanced Disposal Services, owner of Arbor Hills Landfill, denies responsibility for the 901 air quality violation issued on Feb. 6, 2018 by the Michigan Dept. Of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

View the violation response

In its response to the violation, Advanced Disposal Services blames the proximity of homes to the landfill.

“Given the proximity of the homes to the landfill and the nature of Arbor Hills’ business, it would not be unexpected if occasional odors drift off-site.  But these odors, incidental to even the best run landfills, do not constitute a violation of Rule 901(b).”

Advanced Disposal adds:

“It cannot be ignored that when landfill operations began at Arbor Hills, the area was largely rural and sparsely populated. Arbor Hills cannot be held to unachievable standards because developers have decided to build densely-spaced, upscale residential homes increasingly closer — and immediately downwind — of the landfill.”

Moreover, the fact that housing developments, despite the proximity of the landfill, continue to be built at increasing price points is empirical evidence that Arbor Hills is not creating odors that result in an ‘unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property’ within the neighboring communities.”

 

Dump Gets Odor Violation

On Feb. 6, 2018, Arbor Hills Landfill received a 901 violation for failing to comply with the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and other acts and rules.

As the violation notice states, this is a direct result of odor complaints sent by the communities surrounding the dump.

In response to odor complaints submitted from January 16-18, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Division conducted an odor evaluation at Arbor Hills Landfill on Jan. 25, 2018 to determine if the facility was in compliance. AQD staff performed the investigation. Read the MDEQ evaluation

They detected a “distinct and definite objectionable landfill odor in the residential area on North Napier Road downwind of the facility.” They determined it to be a Level 3 on the 5-level MDEQ odor scale.

The odor was strong enough to violate Rule 901(b), which also constituted a violation of Rule 433(1)(c) since the landfill odor created a nuisance odor beyond the landfill’s property boundary.

As of Jan. 25, 2018, the MDEQ had received 71 odor complaints from December and January alone. The MDEQ conducted numerous on-site inspections and complaint investigations in the area.

The most recent observation “appears to indicate the solid waste and compost handling or management are inadequate.”

Advanced Disposal Services has until Feb. 28, 2018 to respond to the violation notice with an explanation, a summary of actions and steps to prevent a recurrence.

Community Group Meeting Jan. 25

Attend the dump’s Community Advisory Group meeting on Jan. 25, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 14600 N. Sheldon Road in Plymouth.

The Arbor Hills Landfill Community Advisory Group is a regular gathering of neighbors to Arbor Hills Landfill and environmentally concerned professionals representing Washtenaw and Wayne counties. It serves as an advisory body to Advanced Disposal Services and an informational and communications resource to those in and around Salem, Plymouth and Northville townships.

This meeting is open to the public. Discussion will focus on hazardous waste and odor issues at the state’s largest landfill at 5 Mile and Napier roads. The dump is in Washtenaw  County but it’s right on the border of Plymouth and Northville townships.

More info: http://bit.ly/2CJEHyP

Thank 100 Women For New Odor Reporting System

100 Women Northville

We  received $13,150 from 100 Women Who Care – Northville  in December 2017. We’re using the funds to build a web-based odor reporting system.

The system will streamline the reporting process, validate the number of reports, the time and severity of the odors. We will own the data so we can use it to build our case against the expansion and the mismanagement of Arbor Hills Landfill.

It’s clear to us that all odor reports are not counted or even taken seriously with the current reporting process. With our web-based system, we hope to build metrics that will compel the EPA to take stronger action regarding the mismanagement of the dump. And, of course, our top priority is to prevent the massive expansion.

We issued an RFP and selected a local tech firm to build the odor complaint system. We don’t have a name for the system yet. Send suggestions to info@theconservancyinitiative.org.

Dec. 4 fundraiser at BW3

Bring your family. Bring your friends. Bring your wallet!

Be sure to attend The Conservancy Initiative fundraiser from 5-9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Novi.

We get 15% of food purchases for diners who present a ticket from 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 4. This is not just a fundraiser. This is an opportunity for us to spread the word and to build our network of supporters. Please plan to be at BW3 on Dec. 4 for at least an hour or two. Please contact info@theconservancyinitiative.org if you can help in any way.

A silent auction will run throughout the event. Donors include: Dancing Eye Gallery, Nassau Grill & Bar, Starring The Gallery, Chili’s, Bagger Dave’s and Yogurt Palooza. We’re still collecting donations. If you own a business or can help collect donations, please contact us right away.

We need help spreading the word! Please print the flyer and distribute at work, school, salons, stores, doctors’ offices and in your neighborhood. Please ask your children to pass them around school, to their sports teams and clubs. Put them on billboards at community centers and libraries and anywhere else you can think of.

Special landfill mtg

Northville Twp. held its first special Arbor Hills Landfill meeting on Sept. 6, 2017. It drew one of the largest crowds in Northville Twp. history.

Larry Bean and Scott Miller from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality gave presentations and answered some questions about the Washtenaw County dump. View the MDEQ action summary and Arbor Hills Landfill status update.

Many residents weren’t allowed to ask questions before Township Supervisor Bob Nix  ended the meeting. Stop Arbor Hills was listed on the agenda but we were not allowed to speak.

Bean confirmed the dump is currently about 300 feet tall and it has 100 feet more to grow. It has 10-13 years of capacity at the current rate of dumping before it’s full.

The old east part of the landfill has polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) in the leachate (contaminated liquid) that can’t flow directly into the sewer system so they pump and haul that leachate to a pre-treatment facility in Detroit. The west part of the landfill doesn’t have PCBs and is allowed to discharge into the Ypsilanti Waste Water Treatment sewer system, Bean said.

While the MDEQ claims the odors are improving, they recognize there are still significant problems.

“In this case, we had a malfunction of a gas system,” Miller said. “Emissions from this landfill will never be zero. The odors from this landfill will never be zero.”

He added there are no health concerns from the odors.

Media coverage

Sept. 6 Arbor Hills Landfill Mtg. at Northville Twp.

Northville Twp. is hosting a special meeting to discuss Arbor Hills Landfill. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is sending two representatives: Larry Bean, Jackson & Lansing District Supervisor, Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division and Scott Miller, Jackson District Supervisor, Air Quality Division. They are both responsible for overseeing operations at Arbor Hills Landfill.

View the agenda

Date: Sept. 6, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Northville Township Municipal Offices, 44405 6 Mile Road, Northville MI 48168
Contact: info@theconservancyinitiative.org

Download the Stop Arbor Hills flyer

In addition to the entire Northville Twp. board, we have invited Sen. Patrick Colbeck, Rep. Jeff Noble, Northville city manager Patrick Sullivan, Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise, members of the Northville school board plus some Washtenaw County elected officials.

Encourage your elected representatives to attend – from your neighborhood’s homeowner association to your PTA to your representatives in the state legislature.

Topics will include: 

  • Landfill’s request to change construction permit
  • Process to expand landfill
  • Toxic and radioactive waste
  • EPA consent order
  • MDEQ odor violations
  • Odor reporting
  • Township update
  • MDEQ update
  • Stop Arbor Hills updates and actions

We’re Gold!

We reached GuideStar Gold status
We reached GuideStar Gold status

On Aug. 14, 2017, GuideStar granted us Gold status for our degree of transparency. GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on non-profit organizations. We submitted information and records to this agency to inform the public about our efforts.

GuideStar’s mission: To revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.

Review The Conservancy Initiative profile on GuideStar.

MDEQ Speaks at final Solid Waste Mtg In Ann Arbor

There weren’t many members of Stop Arbor Hills or the committee at the final Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee meeting on July 19, 2017. Larry Bean from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality basically said it was a training issue that has been preventing the MDEQ from accepting odor reports regarding Arbor Hills Landfill. He said they will accept them again and ensure everyone on staff understands the proper protocol.

Bean blamed recent odor issues on DTE taking its power plant offline. He didn’t explain why the odors were so bad before and after the shut down.  A member of Stop Arbor Hills asked Bean why there have been ongoing odor issues for nearly two years.

“Either they’re incompetent or they’re lying to us,” Joe Beiser said.

“It was both with Republic, but now we have Advanced trying to catch up. So we have to give them a chance and let’s see what they can do,” Bean replied.

According to the Arbor Hills Landfill website, arborhills.info:  “As of February 3, 2017, Advanced Disposal agreed to take over the gas collection system from Republic for the purpose of managing the landfill operations in a way that is more consistent with Advanced Disposal’s operations and company values. Advanced Disposal has since been working directly with Foristar (Methane Group) to collect and direct the landfill gas for the purpose of energy generation.”

Larry Bean discussed Advanced Disposal’s request to modify its existing construction permit.  Public notice of application to modify existing solid waste construction permit (PDF)

Our video recorder quit a short time after the meeting started but we have most of the remainder on audio. Listen

Sadly, we didn’t capture public comments from Stop Arbor Hills or the statement by Washtenaw County that they are extending the public comment period to Sept. 18, 2017 because they are negotiating their community host agreement with Advanced Disposal. This is a big deal.  We don’t know what terms or changes will be included in this agreement. We heard months ago that Salem Twp. was renegotiating their host agreement as well. We submitted a FOIA request to Washtenaw County on July 20. We’ll post an update when we have that information.

Last Wash Co Solid Waste Mtg July 19

Wednesday, July 19 is your last opportunity to make your voice heard before the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee. Learn more

If you do not want a new or expanded landfill in Salem Township, now is your chance to ensure Washtenaw County hears and documents your concerns. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District office at 1735 Wagner Road, Ann Arbor 48103. Contact salemtownshipdump@gmail.com for more details or to carpool.

Advanced Disposal requested a modification to its existing solid waste construction permit with the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on the heels of a May 4, 2017 consent order from the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act in addition to several MDEQ violations.

EPA consent order

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Arbor Hills Landfill a consent order on May 4, 2017. View the order
Our attorney offered the comments below.

  • Background: In general, odor from landfills is caused by the decomposition of buried, organic material, such as food. When decomposition of this type of material occurs, it creates gases with specific, odor-causing chemicals such as sulfides and ammonia.
  • Odor control at Arbor Hills Landfill: Arbor Hills operates 300 gas wells that collect landfill gas and sends it to one of two control systems. Some landfill gas is sent to a gas-to-energy plant that consists of 4 turbines that are used to generate electricity. The gas-to-energy plant is the primary control device for landfill gases. Any additional landfill gas is sent to one of 3 flares.
  • Compliance plan: Arbor Hills Landfill, as part of the consent order, has agreed to perform work to improve its landfill gas collection system according to a compliance plan. Specifically, the compliance plan requires Arbor Hills Landfill to do the following:
    • Add a flare to burn off any odor-causing chemicals from landfill gas that is released.
    • Improve system to control condensation from landfill gases.
    • Install a special type of well (referred to as a caisson well) to collect landfill gases in active landfill areas.
    • Accelerate the installation of final cover on some areas of the landfill.
    • Conduct studies of related to landfill gas.
  • Revisions to plan: The consent order provides that the compliance plan may need to be updated to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act. It’s important to note that the consent order allows the EPA to revise the compliance plan to ensure that Arbor Hills Landfill will operate in compliance with the Clean Air Act. Under the existing schedule for the compliance plan, Arbor Hills Landfill will continue to perform work to improve its landfill gas systems through the end of 2017.

Washtenaw County’s Solid Waste Plan Draft

Washtenaw County released its Solid Waste Plan Amendment for public comment on April 21, 2017. View the draft

The official public comment period for the draft Washtenaw County Solid Waste Plan began on April 21, 2017 and continues for at least 90 days. Submit comments to: publicworks@ewashtenaw.org.

If you have any questions or comments, submit them in writing to Washtenaw County via email at  publicworks@ewashtenaw.org.  The county requests that submitted comments include the  commenter’s name and address for the record.  Comments submitted during the 90‐day public  comment period will be included in the final version of the plan document in Appendix C before submitting to the state.

According to Washtenaw County’s website: “Every county in the state of Michigan is required to have an approved Solid Waste Management Plan. The main purpose of a plan is to make sure we have adequate disposal capacity for any waste generated within the county; to set goals for waste reduction and recycling; and to protect public health.

“The landscape of waste and recycling has changed dramatically since the current plan was passed in 1999. As a leader within the state, our plan should reflect the waste diversion and recycling mindset that is prevalent in our community.”

The Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee has been working since 2015 to develop an amended plan.

To facilitate the public comment period, there will be two informational meetings and one public hearing scheduled. Washtenaw County invites participation and/or written comments on the draft plan from any person having an interest in the future of solid waste and recycling for Washtenaw County.

Informational meetings & public hearing:

  • Information meeting
    Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 6 p.m.

    Salem Township Hall
    9600 Six Mile Rd.
    Salem, MI 48175
  • Informational meeting
    Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 3 p.m.

    Chelsea District Library
    221 S. Main Street
    Chelsea, MI 48118
  • Public hearing
    Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 6 p.m.
    Washtenaw Intermediate School District
    1735 Wagner Road
    Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Our mission is to improve the environment by working with neighbors, government entities, area businesses and community leaders to create a clean and safe place to live and work.