Odor lawsuit settlement

Stop Arbor Hills has nothing to do with the “class action” odor lawsuit filed on April 25, 2016 by Liddle & Dubin of Detroit. The case is pending settlement. Only two plaintiffs, Jorell Lawrence and Mary Salmon, are named and we’ve never heard of or seen them.

Disclaimer: Stop Arbor Hills does not give legal advice. We are NOT lawyers. You must decide for yourself how to respond to the Settlement & Release. We cannot tell you what to do. Any information contained here is for educational purposes and as a public service of a non-profit charity.

Our non-profit’s attorney reviewed the Settlement & Release Agreement and advised board members to Exclude Ourselves, also called Opting-Out. You need to educate yourself and decide what is best for you.  If you decide to opt out, you can use the Exclude Yourself form.

If you live within a 2-mile radius of Arbor Hills Landfill, you may be a Class Member. The law firm posted a map of the class area.

Each class member must either make a claim, exclude themselves, or object. The only class members who are NOT bound by the terms of the agreement are those who exclude themselves. Your request for exclusion (opt-out) must be postmarked by Oct. 11, 2017. Note: You cannot object and opt out.

If you do nothing, you will be considered part of the class action and your rights could be limited yet you will not receive a payment, estimated to be $178 of taxable income but likely less than $100.

Important dates

  • Oct. 11, 2017 – Exclusions (Opt Outs) and Objections must be postmarked by this date. (If you object , you are bound by the terms of the settlement.)
  • Oct. 23, 2017 – Claim Forms must be postmarked by this date.
  • Oct. 27, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. – Final Fairness Hearing to approve the Settlement Agreement.

Our lawyer wrote: The Settlement includes sweeping language barring class members from “participating in” or “benefiting from” any action or “other adversarial proceeding” in any kind of jurisdiction or forum, against any defendant, for not only “released claims” but matters “relating in any fashion to … the facts and circumstances relating” to the action. See Settlement and Release Agreement Para. 10.

Our lawyer wrote: “While the Settlement purportedly releases only claims arising from 2013 to the end of the Cooling Off Period, the quoted language would effectively bar class members from ever becoming involved in any kind of future legal action, in connection with the landfill, against defendant owners or operators of the Arbor Hills Landfill, for at least three separate, but interrelated, reasons:

  1. Class members would have to wait a considerable time after the end of the cooling off period to gain the right to bring suit, because the legal theories of nuisance and negligence require proving persistent odors and substantial damages, respectively;
  2. It would be difficult to impossible to separate “the facts and circumstances” relating to the Action from any future actions, not only because future nuisance odors would probability arise from the same causes that presently exist at the landfill, but even more obviously, because of the basic fact that the landfill exists on its present site now;
  3. Class members would not only be barred from bringing lawsuits, they would be barred from taking any other actions, or participating in any other legal proceedings, such as permitting or enforcement proceedings, in a manner adverse to the landfill. Even verbal objections at a hearing would be prohibited.

There is an exception to this for serious medical conditions that are currently unknown to class members. See Settlement Para. 5.26.”

We consulted with a second attorney who told us this restriction would even apply to filing odor complaints.

The Notice of Pendency etc. provides that a prospective class member can EITHER opt out OR object. You cannot do both! It specifically states that those who file objections are deemed members of the class for settlement purposes, regardless of how the court rules on the objections.

And it gets worse!

Our lawyer wrote: “The Settlement requires both payment of a settlement amount and completion of “Improvement Measures.” However, para. 6.3 of the Settlement provides that EITHER ONE of these requirements “is and shall be sufficient, adequate, full, and final consideration under this agreement.” This provision could excuse Arbor Hills Landfill from completing the improvements stipulated in the Settlement, as long as the settlement funds have been provided.

Of course, Arbor Hills would still be obligated to comply with the EPA Consent Agreement. However, as explained above, the ability of class members to participate in proceedings related to the Consent Agreement would be eliminated or severely curtailed.”

The dump already has to comply with the improvement measures because the law firm lifted them from the EPA consent agreement!

The lawsuit alleges that emissions from the landfill occurred because of the landfill operators’ conduct. The landfill operators are not admitting  liability. Get more information on the law firm’s website.

On September 5, 2017, the Wayne County Circuit Court issued an order granting preliminary approval of the class action settlement.  The court still has to decide whether to approve the settlement.  Payments will only be made if the court approves the settlement and after appeals, if any, are resolved.

Liddle & Dubin sent class members  a settlement notice. According to the lawsuit, a class member is someone who lives within a 2-mile radius of the dump. The lawsuit estimates this is about 1,700 households. We estimate it’s closer to 2,500.

The settlement agreement says: “Advanced or the BFI Parties (the landfill), each and in their own sole discretion, may also terminate this Agreement if the total number of Class Members requesting to Opt-Out of the Settlement exceeds (a) 5% of the total number of Class Members or (b) 50 Class Members (the “Opt-Out Threshold”). In such event, Defendants may elect to terminate this Agreement…”

If 50 class members opt out and the dump does not terminate the agreement, “the settlement funds will be reduced proportionately consistent with the number of opt-outs as measured against the final number of class members eligible for settlement funds.” View the language

The settlement notice says “Class Counsel (Liddle & Dubin) will request the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and litigation expenses, not to exceed $300,000 from the Settlement Fund.” It also says “Defendants will also provide $750,000 to the ‘Settlement Fund’ for the benefit and advantage of the Class Members.” This means the law firm will get at least 40% of class members’ settlement.

The two named plaintiffs are supposed to get $2,500 apiece. The remaining class members will split $445,000 – at most. Remember the $750,000 settlement amount can be reduced if only 50 class members opt out. There is no provision for attorney fees to be reduced. By our estimates, the most class members can hope to be paid is about $262. That’s assuming 50 people don’t opt out, which they certainly will. About 200 members of Stop Arbor Hills have already committed to excluding themselves.

Liddle & Dubin was paid $600,000 in a recent Pennsylvania odor case that required a landfill to pay $1.4 million into a settlement fund. Homeowners will get about $83 apiece in this case. http://bit.ly/2wkuHUI

The court will hold a fairness hearing at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2017  at the Wayne County Circuit Courthouse, 2 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. At this hearing, the court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. The court will consider objections.

Lawrence, et al. v. Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc., and BFI Waste Systems Of North America, LLC, and Allied Waste Industries, Inc.  was assigned to judge Edward Ewell, Jr., Case No. 16-005209-NZ.

The settlement notice is misleading where it says: “The court has appointed the following attorneys to represent the Class Members: Liddle & Dubin, PC…” When Stop Arbor Hills met with lead attorney Laura Sheets, she told us the original filing was written so poorly because they were in a rush to beat other law firms to file the lawsuit. The court didn’t choose this law firm, they were the first to file an odor lawsuit based on the work of Stop Arbor Hills in exposing the odor issues and mismanagement at the dump.

Advanced Disposal Services issued a press release on Sept. 8, 2017 announcing a proposed settlement of the class action lawsuit .

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

We’re winning!

Here's your sign
No more trucks!

Stop Arbor Hills has three primary objectives:

  1. Stop landfill expansion
  2. Reduce odors
  3. Reduce truck traffic

Truck traffic through Northville Twp. has been decreasing for many months but this week we finally got No Truck signs posted on Six Mile and Napier roads. We officially marked this objective complete! Lately the biggest issue has not been garbage trucks but concrete trucks headed to Calo & Sons Trucking on Chubb Road in Salem Twp. It’s not clear yet if they will respect the new signs. Contact Northville Twp. police at 248-349-9400 if you see concrete trucks on 6 Mile or Napier roads in Northville Twp. headed toward Salem Twp.

As for reducing Arbor Hills Landfill odors, we are on our way to achieving that goal as well.  Now that Advanced Disposal owns the entire landfill and its gas collection system, there can be no more finger-pointing between Advanced and Republic Services. The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality is encouraged and optimistic we will not have more odor outbreaks like we had last year.

We are winning the fight against expansion as well. We can’t share all of the details here but we have a plan. Stop Arbor Hills is represented by an environmental attorney now, which is a game-changer. For the first time since we started, we believe we will obtain this objective.

Just because we’re winning doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. We must remain diligent to Stop Arbor Hills!

Learn more

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Washtenaw Co. says no new or expanded landfill

Washtenaw County announced on Feb. 8 that it will not include a new or expanded landfill in its solid waste plan update. Watch video clip above.

“Although I know that the conversations and terminology of the committee and its consultant can sometimes be confusing and troubling if misunderstood, please be assured that the current draft of the updated Solid Waste Management Plan for Washtenaw County does NOT allow for the expansion of an existing landfill OR construction of a new landfill within our county. Period,” said Bryan Weinert, chair of the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Management Planning Committee.

This committee was tasked with updating Washtenaw County’s solid waste plan that is about 20 years old. Part of that process includes identifying what types of solid waste disposal facilities are allowed in the county, including landfills.

The committee has confirmed they will have a draft plan prepared following their March 8 meeting. The solid waste planning process has taken more than a year so far and it still needs to go through a 90-day public comment period, community and board of commission approvals before it can be presented to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for final review and approval.

About 40 Northville and Salem township residents attended the Feb. 8 meeting, along with many children. Read the letter and SWOT analysis written Tanvi Doshi, a Northville High School freshman.  Her mom read an excerpt and presented it to the committee.

Watch the full meeting video. Public comment is at the beginning and end.


Feb. 8 Landfill Mtg

Be sure to attend the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 at 827 N. Zeeb Road in Ann Arbor.

Agenda: http://bit.ly/2kXERWY

This committee will decide whether to include a new or expanded landfill in Salem Twp. in the Washtenaw County solid waste plan update.

The committee has confirmed they will have a draft plan prepared following the March 8 meeting.

Our strategy for the Feb. 8 meeting is to force the committee to look into the faces of the children who are being hurt by the existing landfill and who will be hurt by a new landfill. Ideally, we want students, administrators and faculty from Ridge Wood Elementary and Salem Elementary schools to attend since they are situated closest to the dump.

We want to pack the room with children of all ages. We want children and their parents to speak but they don’t have to. Ideally, the younger children will color pictures of the dump and write, in their words, how it makes them feel when they can’t play outside or walk their dog. Older kids can write papers or short speeches detailing how the dump impacts their lives and how it adds stress to their family. We can make copies and distribute them to the committee.

Wear red to show solidarity.

Ask your children for ideas – they will likely think of something brilliant we haven’t considered yet. Every person at the meeting is granted 3 minutes to present to the committee. They let us go longer when we need to. You can use this 3 minutes any way you want. We have presented PowerPoints, we have shared maps, we have read comments from our petition, we have read violation notices, we have read resolutions. Do something innovative or don’t do anything at all. Except go. We need you.

It is a logistical challenge to bring your children to a public meeting, especially one in Ann Arbor, but it will be worth it. Arrive at 5:30, speak at the beginning and leave if and when you need to. This is an issue that will affect literally generations of area children and families. What if this community had done what we’re doing now in 2009? The massive vertical expansion that has made Arbor Hills Landfill one of the largest in the Great Lakes region never would have been approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the landfill would be nearing its closure date.

We can’t blame Washtenaw County and the waste management companies for not having a conscience, for polluting and hurting us, if we’re not willing to stand up and fight for our habitat, for the air we breathe.

You can do this! We need you! There are plenty of carpools. We can pick you up at your door if you give us at least a day’s notice or you can meet us at the Steeplechase club house. We were hoping someone would donate a bus but we haven’t heard from anyone. Email salemtownshipdump@gmail.com to get a ride.

Jan. 11 planning mtg

Stop Arbor Hills had 50+ at Washtenaw County’s Solid Waste Planning Committee meeting on Jan. 11, 2017.

Stop Arbor Hills spoke at the beginning and the end of the 2.5-hour meeting. Here’s the meeting in its entirety.

Here are some excerpts of individuals speaking to the committee.

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Violation response

On Dec. 23, 2016, Arbor Hills Landfill submitted a response to the air quality violation issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Dec. 14, 2016.

Read the response

The response includes a  a collaborative plan for corrective action, which includes the installation of an odor control system, a new utility flare, a new 550,000-gallon leachate tank, five new gas wells and 22 replacement gas extraction wells.

A recent Freedom Of Information Act request submitted by Stop Arbor Hills also returned the following two documents:


Arbor Hills Gets Major MDEQ Odor Violation

After a year and 500+ odor complaints, on Dec. 14, 2016 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality finally issued a “901 violation” for nuisance odors to Arbor Hills Landfill. This type of violation must be issued by MDEQ’s Air Quality Division (AQD). The other violations this year were issued by the Waste Management & Radiological Protection Division.

Read the violation

Air Quality Division investigations on December 5 and 10, 2016 found air pollution and solid waste violations of the federal Clean Air Act and other laws.

According to the violation: “These most recent observations of landfill gas like odors in violation of Rule 901 and Rule 433(1)(c), appear to indicate the landfill gas collection and control systems are inadequate. While the MDEQ recognizes the efforts taken to date to resolve offsite odors, these recent observed odor violations indicate more work needs to be done to minimize landfill gas odors from the facility.”

The owners and operators at Arbor Hills Landfill must submit a written response to the violation by Dec. 23, 2016.

Ann Arbor Meeting

If you do not want a second dump in your back yard, please attend the Dec. 14 Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee (SWPC) meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Scio Township Hall, 827 N Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

This committee has the authority to either include or exclude a new or expanded dump in Salem Twp. The Stop Arbor Hills team has been attending these meetings since February. The committee is close to making its final decision. This will be the last meeting of the year, so please plan to attend to make your voice heard. You do not need to speak but you can. Don’t worry if you are late. Many people come in long after the meeting has started and it is no problem.

On February 9, 2015 Advanced Disposal requested an amendment to the county solid waste plan to increase its footprint. Advanced suspended its request on Aug. 29, 2016 but Washtenaw County is still updating its solid waste plan. This plan can include language that would allow Advanced Disposal – owner of Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Twp. – to site a new landfill without seating a new Solid Waste Planning Committee. Our goal is to prevent them from doing that.

During a public meeting on Oct. 24, 2016, Kelly Rooney, regional manager of Advanced Disposal, assured local residents that Advanced will expand but she would not disclose timing.

Contact salemtownshipdump@gmail.com if you need a ride or more information. Several car pools leave from Steeplechase. We need you!

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Leachate Poisons Johnson Creek


On August 10, 2015, the mismanagement of Arbor Hills Landfill led to the contamination of Johnson Creek with “tens of thousands” of gallons of leachate spewing into the water. This information was obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request sent to Washtenaw County that produced the email pictured above and attached.

The email states, in part: “The force main for the leachate collection/treatment system failed. The leachate was discharged to a 2m gallon onsite stormwater retention pond that discharges to the Johnson Creek via a ditch.

“They are trying to determine the volume of leachate released, probably in the neighborhood of tens of thousands. Potentially, the leachate may cause a BOD problem in the Creek.”

We don’t have more details at this time.


Leachate is a landfill waste product created when rainwater flows through decomposing waste and picks up toxic contaminants. The creation of leachate, sometimes called “garbage soup,” presents a major threat to the current and future quality of ground water. A release of leachate to the ground water may present several risks to human health and the environment.

The release of hazardous and nonhazardous components of leachate may render an aquifer unusable for drinking-water purposes and other uses, which is what happened to the aquifer on the corner of 6 Mile and Napier across from the historic school house in Northville Twp.

Leachate impacts to groundwater may also present a danger to the environment and to aquatic species if the leachate-contaminated groundwater plume discharges to wetlands or streams.

The Arbor Hills East (AHE) Landfill does not have a base liner in place but it has a slurry wall.

AHE entered into a consent order in the late 1980s which required remedial activities that included the slurry wall, gradient control, a pump-and-treat groundwater control system, an active gas collection system and final closure. AHE has dual gas and leachate extraction wells in place. Republic Services (BFI) is responsible for all long-term care, environmental compliance and any remedial activities associated with the AHE portion of the landfill.

Advanced Disposal is responsible for Arbor Hills West (AHW) environmental compliance. AHW has a double composite liner system and an active gas extraction system.

The active gas extraction system for both the east and west portions of the landfill are owned, installed and operated by Republic Services.

There are 3 groundwater zones monitored around the landfill – the upper, intermediate and lower zones. The only continuous aquifer beneath the site is the lower zone.

Related reading

Fire At Arbor Hills!


There was a massive fire at the Arbor Hills Landfill campus in Salem Twp. on Sunday, Nov.  20. The Great Lakes Recycling Center building burned to the ground.  Fire departments spotted included Augusta Twp., Northville, Canton Twp., Northfield Twp., Scio Twp., Ann Arbor, Lyon Twp., South Lyon, Lyon Twp., Dexter, Pittsfield Twp. and Salem Twp.

Northville Record story — Nov. 21, 2016

Update 8:30 a.m. Nov. 21 from Larry Bean, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

“I was called out to the fire last night at the Great Lakes Recycling Center.  Most of the material that burned was cardboard but there was some plastic automotive scrap and polyurethane automotive seating scrap in bails for recycling.  We were not aware that they started to take the plastic and polyurethane.  The fire department hazmat team tested the smoke and determined there were no contaminants that would affect residents off site.  When I left at 1 AM the fire department was pulling back the collapsed roof to expose hot spots and putting those out as they moved the roof.  The material may smolder for most of today.  I will go back out later this morning. ”

News coverage

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EPA, DEQ Violations

Arbor Hills Landfill has received two violations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year and four violations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

  • Violation – Republic Services (BFI Waste Systems of North America)
  • Violation – Arbor Hills Energy (Fortistar Methane Group)


The EPA conducted ambient air sampling and surface monitoring that resulted in the violations for violating the Clean Air Act.

“We’re somewhat taking over,” said Kenneth Ruffatto, an EPA environmental engineer who oversees Arbor Hills.

He said the EPA has been working closely with the MDEQ and will continue to do so. The EPA is keeping logs of odor complaints submitted to the MDEQ. Ruffatto said it’s important to specify the type of odor you smell, if possible, when you submit odor complaints to the MDEQ because it helps identify the source.

He said neighbors should smell garbage occasionally but the odors Arbor Hills Landfill has been emitting for the last year and a half are unacceptable and the EPA is working with Advanced Disposal, BFI-Republic Services and Fortistar Methane Group-Arbor Hills Energy to remedy the issue.

“We’re not confident yet if it’s safe or unsafe,” Ruffatto said.

On Nov. 8, 2016, the MDEQ’s Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection issued the latest violation to Arbor Hills. Review the violation

The MDEQ’s Air Quality Division has logged 422 odor complaints this year as of November 4  — about 40 of them in November.

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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.