Please consider us this Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is the most generous day of the year! Please consider The Conservancy Initiative as you decide where you donate.



 
We have had many successes this year.
We have done so much. But there is SO much yet to do!
  • We want to hire a lobbying firm to advocate for us in Lansing. Advanced Disposal has a team of lobbyists attempting to convince legislators they need a new landfill.
  • We want to hire a lawyer to privately enforce violations the MDEQ doesn’t have the inclination or ability to enforce.
  • We want to start a campaign to educate Washtenaw County residents. Most of them have no idea their county hosts a landfill is horribly mismanaged and hurting families.
  • We want to test the water of residents and schools near the landfill.
  • We want to launch programs to reduce solid waste.
The Conservancy Initiative, also known as Stop Arbor Hills, has no employees. We are a volunteer-run organization. We get no grants. We completely rely on you, our generous supporters.
Thank you for considering us as you plan your year-end giving.

Advanced Disposal’s stinkiest day yet

Advanced Disposal’s Arbor Hills Landfill received 114 odor complaints on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 — its worst day yet. Many residents of Salem, Northville, Novi and Plymouth reported odors for the first time.

Residents use The Odor Report, a web-based system, to submit odor complaints.

Some of the odor descriptions:

“Disgusting putrid offensive stink”

“Horrible landfill gas smell long after the dump was closed for the day.”

“The odor was a sulfuric stench I could smell it inside my home. When I opened my dryer to get my laundry out I just about threw up it was so disgusting. Every Thanksgiving it begins to smell as I prepare for our family to come visit. I am not sure why they can’t run their business in a professional manner surely not being a good neighbor to us. I never have any problems with the gas stations or other businesses in the area.”

“Really really bad smell smell like someone pooping (in) my front yard.”

“Horrible garbage landfill smell permeated into my garage upon opening the garage door it hit me in the face a pungent smell. I thought colder air would cut down the landfill gas smell”

“It smells sooo bad u can t breathe outside. It’s horrible in my garage into laundry rm. Plz help us live a normal life. This is inhuman. Thank you. ”

The Conservancy Initiative was formed three years ago to combat the proposed expansion and many environmental issues related to Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Twp. Most of the residents who have been hurt by this massive landfill live in Wayne County while the landfill itself sits in Washtenaw County, a cash cow for its hosts – Salem Twp. and Washtenaw County.

Only 10 percent of the waste at Arbor Hills Landfill actually comes from Washtenaw County residents, according to data provided by Washtenaw County.

Arbor Hills Landfill is already one of the largest landfills in the nation yet Advanced Disposal Services wants to expand. The landfill is flanked by two elementary schools, a nature preserve and hundreds of homes.

Want to help?
  • Donate to The Conservancy Initiative
  • Contact your elected officials to determine what they’re doing to remedy this issue
  • Contact Larry Bean, supervisor of the Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. 517-416-4375 or BEANL@michigan.gov
  • Contact Salem Twp. Supervisor Gary Whittaker. The landfill subsidizes the township and its residents’ taxes. As owner of Three Cedars Farm, Whittaker benefits from this arrangement gary@salem-mi.org
  • Attend meetings in Northville Twp. and Salem Twp.
  • Contact Salem Twp. state Rep. Donna Lasinski at (517) 373-0828 or DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov.

See you tonight!

After submitting over 1,400 odor complaints this year, Northville and Salem township residents are sick of the air pollution from Washtenaw County’s Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Twp. Many of these upset residents will be voicing their concerns at tonight’s Northville Twp. Board of Trustees meeting at 7.

Meeting details

The odor emanating from Advanced Disposal’s operation at 6 Mile and Napier roads has been an ongoing issue for three years. Managers of Advanced Disposal should be in attendance so residents will have the opportunity to confront them directly.

Questions? Contact info@theconservancyinitiative.org.

Mich. waste management legislation update

Republican state Rep. Rob VerHeulen introduced a bill to amend Michigan’s Natural Resources & Environmental Protection Act.

On Nov. 7, 2018, House Bill 6483 was introduced and referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.  The bill description reads: “Environmental protection; solid waste; management of waste materials; establish, provide regulatory oversight of composting, and establish funding for programs. ”

This is just the start of the legislative process.

Most of Michigan’s environmental acts were consolidated into the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994, PA 451, as amended (Act 451). Act 451 is organized into sections called “Parts.”

The Conservancy Initiative works primarily with the Air Quality and Waste Management divisions of the MDEQ as we attempt to reduce and correct issues with pollution from Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Twp., Washtenaw County.

The Office of Regulatory Reinvention maintains the Rules promulgated under Michigan statutes. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality administered rules organized by MDEQ divisions are on the Michigan Environmental Rules page.

Questions or concerns?
Contact Liz Browne, the Special Projects Administrator of the Waste Management & Radiological Protection division of the MDEQ.
517-284-6552  |  brownee@michignan.gov

Related links

Republic fined $406,000

Under a consent agreement and final order with the EPA, the former owner and operator of Arbor Hills Landfill’s gas collection and control system must pay a fine of $406,000 for failing to comply with the Clean Air Act.

View the consent agreement & final order

Until Feb. 2, 2017 BFI Waste Systems of North America  owned and operated the gas collection and control system at Arbor Hills Landfill. Republic Services is BFI’s parent company. BFI waived its right to a hearing but has not admitted any wrongdoing.

Alleged violations

1. Failure to install an active collection system that could withstand overburden, address water in the Landfill, and prevent gas into the air as required at 40CF,R. § 60.759(b)(lH2). 40 C.F,R. § 63. I 955, and its ROP (renewable operating permit).

2. Failure to address off-site landfill gas migration and extend the active collection system of the Landfill to comply with gas migration standards as required at 40 C.F.R. §60.759.(b)(l), 40 C.F.R. § 63.1955 and its ROP.

3. Failure to submit timely ACT (alternative compliance timeline) requests as required at 40 C.F.R. § 60.755(a)(3)&(5), 40 C.F.R. § 63.1955, and its ROP.

4. Failure to perform a timely performance test for two enclosed flares as required by the Landfill ROP.

5. Failure to operate the flares during turbine outages and maintain good air pollution control practices as required in 40 C.F.R. § 60.ll(d) and 40 C.F.R. § 63.6(e)(l)(i).

6. Failure to collect gas at a sufficient extraction rate as required in 40 C.F.R. § 60.752(b)(2)(ii)(A)(3), 40 C.F.R. § 63.1955, and its ROP.

Factual allegations & alleged violations

BFI formerly owned and operated the GCCS (gas collection and control system) at the Arbor Hills Landfill (the Landfill) located at 10690 West Six Mile Road, Northville, Michigan.

BFI retained ownership of the GCCS at the Landfill in a Purchase Agreement dated March 8, 2000 and operated the GCCS, including over 300 gas collection wells, two enclosed flares, and one utility flare. Subsequently, as of February 2, 2017, BFI transferred ownership and control. of the GCCS to Advanced Disposal, and as a result is no longer an owner or operator of the affected facility.

On September 29,  2016, EPA issued three Findings of Violation (FOVs) to BFI, Advanced Disposal, and Arbor Hills Energy. The FOV issued to BFI alleged that it violated the Landfill NSPS (new source performance standards), the Landfills NESHAP (National Emission
Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for municipal solid waste Landfills) , the NSPS General Provisions. the NESHAP Provisions, and the ROP (renewable operating permit).

On November 14, 2016, representatives of Advanced Disposal, BFI, Arbor Hills Energy, and EPA discussed the September 29, 2016 FOVs. The parties have also had subsequent discussions and communications regarding this matter.

 

Violation response

Advanced Disposal Services denies responsibility for odors once again in its response to the Aug. 31, 2018 violation notice issued by the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality.

Read the response

The MDEQ issued the violation notice on Aug. 31, 2018 for odors detected by MDEQ staff on Aug. 23.  The company the dump hired to monitor odors, RK & Associates, did not detect significant odors on Aug. 23.

Advanced Disposal claims they have done more than enough to remedy odors.

The response says: “The data illustrates that ADS has corrected the original source of the odor complaints — deficiencies in the infrastructure of the landfill gas collection and control system. This has left incidental odors from waste disposal operations and composting as the remaining potential sources for any detectable odors. In addition to the improvement in landfill gas collection efficiency, Arbor Hills Landfill has also aggressively implemented measures to mitigate odors associated with waste disposal operations as well as its compost operation.”

Advanced also questioned the MDEQ’s standards.

“Rule 901, in turn, generally prohibits the emission of an air contaminant in quantities that cause, among other things, an”unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property.” This standard essentially restates the common law definition of “nuisance” and, therefore, must be considered in light of Michigan case law elucidating that concept. A nuisance is a non-trespassory invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land. See Adkins v. Thomas Solvent Co., 440 Mich. 293, 302 (1992). A defendant is not subject to liability in nuisance
unless the plaintiff proves each of the following elements:
1. the other has property rights and privileges in respect to the use or enjoyment interfered with;
2. the invasion results insignificant harm;
3. the actor’s conduct is the legal cause of the invasion; and
4. the invasion is either (i) intentional and unreasonable, or (ii) unintentional and otherwise actionable under the rules governing liability for negligent, reckless, or ultrahazardous conduct.

“To properly establish a Rule 901 violation, there must be showing not only of ‘significant harm’ resulting from the odor but also a showing that ADS acted unreasonably in its operation of the landfill. Further, under Michigan common law, an actionable nuisance exists only to the extent that defendant’s conduct was “unreasonable” in light of apublic-policy assessment of the conduct’s overall value to society. See Adams v. Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co., 237 Mich. App. 51, 67 (1999). Accordingly, any intrusion of odors into residential areas must be balanced against the degree to which the Arbor Hills landfill is socially valuable.”

 

Arbor Hills Landfill gets yet another violation

Arbor Hills Landfill was issued a major violation on Aug. 31, 2018 for failing to control odors. This is the second citation for violating federal environmental laws this year.

Read the violation

The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality conducted an investigation on Aug. 23, 2018 after receiving odor complaints. The complaints started at 7 a.m. and continued until after 10 p.m. The 30 odor descriptions varied from rubber burning to raw sewage to rotten eggs to pungent trash.

Our sources say the nasty odors likely resulted from the 200 tons of Detroit sewage sludge that Arbor Hills Landfill accepted shortly before this incident.

The Air Quality Division staff detected “a distinct and definite objectionable landfill garbage odor in the residential area on the south side of Napier Road downwind of the facility,” according to the violation notice.

Through the time of their inspection on Aug. 23, MDEQ had received nearly 900 odor complaints regarding Arbor Hills Landfill in 2018, according to the violation notice.

Stop Arbor Hills launched The Odor Report earlier this year to track and report nuisance odors. The number of odor reporters and reports increased dramatically with the single system and process. Arbor Hills Landfill received 522 odor complaints in 2016 and 280 in 2017. As of Sept. 17, more than 1,000 odor complaints have been submitted this year.

“In response to complaints, DEQ staff has conducted numerous on-site inspections and complaint investigations in the immediate area,” says the violation notice. “This recent observation of landfill garbage odors in violation of Rule 901 and Rule 433(1)(c), indicates additional measures are needed to reduce odors from the landfill.”

The dump’s owner, Advanced Disposal Services (ADS), must send a response to this violation notice by Sept. 24, 2018. The response is supposed to include steps to fix ongoing odor issues. The last time the dump received a 901 violation, on Feb. 6, 2018, they denied responsibility and blamed developers in lieu of providing a comprehensive remediation plan.

Feb. 6 violation  |  Violation response

Odor consultant RK & Associates is still conducting odor evaluations. Read odor evaluations

Advanced Disposal Services claims it has spent $8 million improving its gas collection system but the company has not shown  documentation confirming this. Read the gas collection system construction update from Advanced Disposal Services.

Even after all of the violations and 1,000+ odor complaints in 2018 alone, the operators of Arbor Hills Landfill still maintain they are going to expand.

The MDEQ has published an action summary from May-Aug. 2018. Read the summary

 

Materials Management legislation update

See the update below from Northville Twp. Supervisor Bob Nix regarding the status of Michigan legislation as a result of the Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel (SWSAP).

Materials management legislation update

Materials Management Plan legislation, 6th draft. See page 165-166 for text regarding adjacent communities. Do you have thoughts or ideas regarding this legislation? Contact us at info@theconservancyinitiative.org.

Who to contact
  • Larry Bean, MDEQ – BEANL@michigan.gov
  • Scott Miller, MDEQ – millers@michigan.gov
  • Kenneth Ruffatto, EPA lead – Ruffatto.Kenneth@epa.gov
  • Sen. Patrick Colbeck, – senpcolbeck@senate.michigan.gov
  • Rep. Jeff Noble – jeffnoble@house.mi.gov
  • Salem Twp. Supervisor Gary Whittaker – gary@salem-mi.org
  • Northville Twp. Supervisor Bob Nix – rnix@twp.northville.mi.us

Related links

Advanced Disposal harassing residents again

Message from Northville resident intimidated by Advanced Disposal employees

Stop Arbor Hills received the message above on Aug. 21, 2018. Advanced Disposal Services has a long history of harassing and intimidating residents who complain around their landfills and composting operations. Advanced Disposal employees at Arbor Hills Landfill in Washtenaw County have been visiting and harassing residents for over 2 years now. They come calling late at night and throughout the day.

Many residents have explained to us how intimidated, attacked, and harassed they felt. Sadly, these tactics are effective. They visited a young Northville mom with small children while her husband was away. She said she will never report another odor out of fear of their return. Please share your story with us if the dump people have come to your home and made you uncomfortable. Email us at salemtownshipdump@gmail.com.

As for the question above regarding the cancellation of recess at Ridge Wood Elementary in Northville, this is a semantic game. The school cuts recess short and sometimes they have the students stay inside but they don’t cancel recess outright that we’re aware of. Children are denied the ability to play outside and they’re denied the ventilation system on bad odor days. These issues are outlined in the school board’s resolution they signed on Aug. 16, 2016. Read the resolution

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. 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

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.