Category Archives: Department of Environmental Quality

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Learn more

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Arbor Hills Gets Its 3rd DEQ Violation This Year

Arbor Hills received a violation from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on April 29, 2016.

According to the DEQ, Arbor Hills also had a fire in a gas well on the south side.  This was due to the greater vacuum pulling in oxygen into that well.  The well melted.  The landfill added cover, which snuffed out the smoldering fire.  They have decreased the vacuum to that area to push out any oxygen and will need to replace the well.  This could contribute to odors until this area is fixed and the vacuum reestablished in that area.

See the violation.

Update from Gov. Snyder’s office

Thank you for your March 2, 2016, e-mail to Governor Rick Snyder regarding odor issues from the Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc. in Salem, Michigan and a proposed expansion of that facility. Governor Snyder has referred your e-mail to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for response.

Since Scott Miller of the DEQ Air Quality Division has already provided information to you regarding the odor issues at Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc., I will address your concern over the proposed expansion.

Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc. has not applied for an expansion permit with the DEQ. The company has started preliminary discussions with Salem Township and Washtenaw County regarding a proposal to expand the landfill operation north of Six Mile Road in the area currently used for composting operations. These discussions are between the landfill company, the host community, and the county.

The landfill is regulated by the DEQ pursuant to Part 115, Solid Waste Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. Under Part 115, each county must develop a Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). Any proposed landfill expansion must first be determined to be consistent with the SWMP prior to an application being made to the DEQ.

Washtenaw County is currently in the process of amending its entire SWMP as well as to allow for an expansion at Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc. The process for amending the SWMP does include an opportunity for public input. You may contact Mr. Jeffrey Krcmarik, Washtenaw County’s Designated Planning Agency contact for the amendment at 734-222-6865 or to request to be added in the Solid Waste Management Planning Committee (SWMPC) notifications throughout the process. The SWMP approval process allows for public input during each of the SWMPC meetings, 90-day public comment, and public hearing, Board of Commissioners approval meeting, during the 67 percent municipal approval process and during the final DEQ approval.

Once Washtenaw County amends their SWMP to include this landfill expansion then the facility would be able to apply for a construction permit with the DEQ. At that time the DEQ will offer a public meeting and or public hearing to answer questions and address public concerns before a decision is made on permitting the landfill expansion.

We appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention. If you have any further questions or comments, please contact Mr. Lawrence Bean at 517-416-4375, or e-mail, or you may contact me.

Steve Sliver, Acting Office Chief
Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection

DEQ Report: FY15 Solid Waste Mgt. Fund

We have received a copy of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Report on Activities Funded by the Staff Account of the Solid Waste Management Fund for fiscal year 2015.

View the document

Fast facts:

  • In fiscal year 2015, the DEQ collected fines and penalties of $100,800.
  • A total of 908 inspections were conducted.
  • The DEQ received 1,089 solid waste management complaints, 52 of which were investigated via inspections.
  • The amount of revenue in the Solid Waste Management Fund Staff Account at the end of FY2014 was $3,761,002 and FY2015 was $4,074,281.

Updates from MDEQ & Rep. Kurt Heise

Diane Kavanaugh Vetort of the DEQ sent this update today:

Thank you for contacting me and I apologize for the delay in responding. I did conduct odor evaluations in the area Friday 26th between 8:00 am to 9:00 am and then again after receiving a Northville Ridge PEAS complaint at 5:45 pm I was in the area from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  I observed landfill gas odor on both occasions and was able to obtain a sample on S. Glacier during the morning hour. The sample results will be made available when we receive them. Unfortunately, I did not observe the odor in the complainant’s residential area during my observation in the evening. I did however detect it quite strong on 6 Mile at the Napier corner and east of Napier, and less strong downwind on Briar Ridge in the Steeplechase subdivision.

AQD received other complaints over the weekend for a total of about 16 (I did not receive a call from the school). We are continuing to log all of them and will continue to conduct odor evaluations when possible. We are also continuing to notify the Arbor Hills Landfill of the ongoing odor complaints and are receiving regular updates on the construction. The most recent update received was yesterday 2/29.

·       Drilling two additional wells along the Cell 4 East facing slope, near the intersection of, Cell 4-B, Cell-1, Cell 5.

·       We anticipate having both of those wells drilled by dark today.

·       Apparently, the connection performed last Friday to well 225-R3 proved inadequate and that line required re-installation during the weekend while there was no traffic to interfere.

·       Repairs to the 2nd drill rig are expected to be completed Tuesday and wells 224-R3, 226-R2 and well 283 will be connected by weeks end.

·       Trenching for the installation of air/forcemain lines is ongoing, as is the evaluation for pump installation.

Below is an update received from a local neighbor from state Rep. Kurt Heise yesterday:

As the former Director of the Wayne County Department of Environment, my staff and I were tasked with the ultimate oversight of landfill permitting and operations.  While DEQ had permit compliance oversight on things like odor, transport, dust and other factors, the permitting and siting process was largely the responsibility of the county.  Wayne County’s landfills in the 1990’s were sited with an eye toward future expansion, and I’m sure the Salem landfill was no different. 

I will ask Valerie Knol in my office to see what options there might be for getting Northville an official spot on the approval process.  From what I’ve heard from township officials, the landfill is going to be expanded and I’m not sure what we can do to stop it.  We will see what we can do, however.  I would also urge you to talk to (Northville Township) Supervisor Nix and Chip Snider to see what they know about the situation and whether they would support such a move.

DEQ posts violations, air quality reports

The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality has posted a new page about the Arbor Hills Landfill. See air sampling reports, violation details and construction updates.

Arbor Hills background, reports

The DEQ did not include the more serious violation details from Arbor Hills Energy, the adjacent landfill gas-to-energy turbine plant owned and operated by Fortistar Methane Group. The gas collection facility has received violations for exceeding sulfur dioxide emission standards. The Environmental Protection Agency links short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide to an array of adverse respiratory effects.

Learn more about the Fortistar Methane Group violations at Arbor Hills Energy.

Advanced, Republic violation response

The Feb. 2, 2016 violation the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued to Advanced Disposal and Republic Services asked for a response by Feb. 15, 2016. A Freedom of Information Act request returned the three documents below.