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

20150810-leachate3

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

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!

IMG_2757

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)

epa-impact-violation

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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Meetings & updates

Stop Arbor Hills had 50 members in attendance at the Nov. 9, 2016 Washtenaw County Solid Waste Planning Committee (SWPC) meeting in Ann Arbor. Learn more about the SWPC meetings.

The committee discussed adding language to its solid waste plan update that would exclude any new landfills in the county. With so many members of the committee representing the solid waste industry, that will be difficult to pass. Dave Rettell from Advanced Disposal is on the committee in addition to a representative from Waste Management and Salem Twp. Supervisor Gary Whittaker.

Learn more about the proposed new dump.

Stop Arbor Hills met on Nov. 3 at the Northville library.

Meeting notes:

We had a productive meeting on Nov. 3 with 35 in attendance.

According to Northville Twp. Trustee Fred Shadko, Advanced Disposal said they are hiring an “odor expert” to help mitigate the ongoing odor issues.

Advanced may acquire the gas collection system from Republic Services. Advanced may also acquire the older part of the landfill that Republic owns.  It’s uncertain if or when these transactions will be completed.

Odor reporting

Be sure to also report odors to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Contact Scott Miller at millers@michigan.gov or 1-517-780-7481 during business hours or 1-800-292-4706 after hours. We need to ensure the odors are properly documented with the DEQ. The updated contact information is on our website, including some new CCs to include when you send emails to the DEQ: http://stoparborhills.com/odor-reporting/

Shadko reported that the Northville Twp. Listserv will include landfill updates soon but he didn’t have a date when this will launch.

Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County is nearing the end of its solid waste management plan update. If certain language is included in the plan, Advanced could site a dump in Salem Twp. without seating another solid waste planning committee. We could like to hire a professional to review this plan when it’s done. Contact salemtownshipdump@gmail.com if you have ideas or resources. The attorney we consulted wants $10,000 to work our case and we don’t have that much in donations yet.

Class action

The class action lawsuit is in the discovery phase of litigation. This will last through December and possibly longer, according to the lead attorney. Since the lawyer assured Stop Arbor Hills they have no interest in helping us stop the expansion, we are no longer going to actively follow this lawsuit.

Volunteers

We need help engaging students and young people to help fight the dump. Students could help us research the environmental and health effects of landfills generally and this one specifically. They could learn how to write and file a Freedom of Information Act request. They could learn how to write and submit a press release or letter to the editor. They could pass out flyers, attend municipal meetings, start a social media campaign, write and perform a song or play, shoot and edit videos, participate in a coloring contest. What ideas do you have? Ask your children how they can help – their ideas likely will be better than ours. We need so much help and most of us are eager to teach others how to help.

We need volunteers to pass out flyers on election day. We could use help all day but we have specific openings in the time slots from 5-7 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. We are handing flyers to voters after they leave Ridge Wood Elementary. This is an excellent opportunity to educate our neighbors. The majority of our community still doesn’t know anything about the new dump. Contact Debbie Brown at vmiller1950@att.net if you can help.

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Meeting coverage in Northville Record

The Northville Record covered the Oct. 24  meeting between Stop Arbor Hills and Advanced Disposal.

Residents pledge to stop Arbor Hills expansion – Oct. 25, 2016 – Northville Record

Videos from the event

Dr. Sara Hashemian describes her concerns about the Arbor Hills Landfill: odors, headaches, insomnia, truck traffic, noise and lower quality of life. Toll Brothers built the Steeplechase development about a half-mile from an existing dump and told many buyers the landfill wasn’t a nuisance and that it was closing soon anyway. Instead of closing, the landfill plans to double in size and earn the moniker Nation’s Largest Landfill.

This video captures the moment when it is revealed that Arbor Hills is already one of the largest landfills in the country – most of us didn’t realize that. If allowed to grow, it will quickly become the nation’s biggest landfill.

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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.