Category Archives: violation

Advanced Disposal violation response

On the surface, Advanced Disposal Services’ latest violation response paints a picture of monumental incompetence at least, deliberate foot-dragging on compliance at worst.

Arbor Hills Landfill has received three violations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality already in 2019 — and there are more forthcoming.

View violations

The response reads: “Unfortunately (and as previously communicated to the DEQ), during commissioning in early December, issues with the blowers became evident – they could not sustain operation at normal load and this concern was promptly communicated to Lone Star Blowers, Inc., the blower manufacturer. Since that time, Arbor Hills has been diligently trying to work through the issue with Lone Star. As it became evident to Advanced Disposal that Lone star was not going to be capable of timely remedying the blower issues to satisfy the intended design standard, Advanced Disposal has now had to elect an alternative manufacturer for a permanent resolution but continues to devote substantial resources to obtain as much operational capability on interim basis within the shortest possible time frame.”

According to The Conservancy Initiative’s attorney, the company should have made itself aware of the condition of the blowers much earlier, at the time they were negotiating actions needed to comply with the EPA consent order. 

It’s unclear why Arbor Hills Landfill ordered new blowers from Lone Star Blowers, Inc. It looks as if they were unsuitable from the start. 

The response says: “The work originally initiated by Arbor Hills in November 2018 to replace the existing blowers was to provide 12,000 scfm (standard cubic feet per minute) of design blower capacity. This can only be achieved through matching the blowers and control system so as not to inhibit the performance of any one blower in the arrangement. These are complex systems that require harmonization for efficient landfill gas collection and we have not identified any viable alternative other than asking a new vendor to provide new blowers that will be several months in the making. In the interim Arbor Hills is assembling as much infrastructure as it can to ensure as much back up landfill gas collection as possible. In this regard, it should be noted that the conveyance system upgrades that have been made (24 inch and 36-inch header) have achieved the objective of improving landfill gas collection throughout the landfill footprint.”

Overall, the picture being painted here is of a company that is trying to do the minimum necessary to get by instead of approaching the problem comprehensively. The reason, of course, boils down to money. As long as sanctions including fines are less than what it would take to completely redesign the landfill gas collection system, they will put up with MDEQ and community objections. They likely used the same calculus in deciding to use diesel as the start-up fuel.

Our attorney has cautioned that we don’t have enough information about company decision-making to know for sure whether it is incompetence or indifference that keeps causing problems. From a legal perspective, however, it doesn’t matter.

Enforcement notice!

After years of egregious mismanagement, Advanced Disposal Services (ADS) has received an enforcement notice for failing to remedy issues at Arbor Hills Landfill. Read the enforcement notice.

These issues, detailed in violation notices, include gas, garbage and compost odors that have led to thousands of odor complaints in the last three years. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued the enforcement notice on Jan. 24, 2019. It’s addressed to the landfill’s general manager, Bob Walls.

The notice reads: “This letter is to advise you of the commencement of escalated enforcement action against Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc. (Company). This letter follows the February 2, 2016; March 15, 2016; April 29, 2016; November 8, 2016; December 14, 2016; February 6, 2018; August 31, 2018; October 12, 2018; January 14, 2019; and January 17, 2019 Violation Notices (VNs) issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Air Quality Division (AQD) and Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division (WMRPD).”

Since 2016, Advanced Disposal has received 10 violations for mismanaging Arbor Hills Landfill in Washtenaw County. Fortistar Methane Group has received its own violations dating back to 2015. Republic Services also received violations for failing to maintain and manage its gas collection system. Republic no longer has an interest in Arbor Hills Landfill.

The MDEQ alleges that Advanced Disposal Services’ various operational failures have resulted in air quality and solid waste violations including, but not limited to, nuisance odors as detailed in the violation notices. The MDEQ has asked the company to immediately undertake all actions necessary to resolve all violations identified in the enforcement notice and the violation notices listed above.

The MDEQ is providing Advanced Disposal Services with an opportunity to formally resolve these violations through the entry of a legally enforceable agreement that includes a compliance program and payment of an appropriate monetary penalty (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.) Deadline is Feb. 8, 2019.

The actions the MDEQ wants them to take include:

  • Shut down compost operation
  • Reduce amount of garbage they accept daily
  • Stop accepting certain types of smelly garbage
  • Install odor monitoring system so as trucks pull in, if garbage is too smelly, they are turned away
  • Reduce size of open face where garbage is added daily

Advanced Disposal Services can either agree to make the changes and accept the fine or they can try to negotiate a different solution. The other option they have is to refuse to comply with these actions. If this happens, then the MDEQ will turn this over to the Attorney General to take them to court to force them to take these actions. Both are considered long-term actions. If it goes to court, it will be years before it is settled.

Residents are invited to an information meeting on March 20 regarding Fortisar Methane Group’s permit change request. Residents can ask questions about the landfill, the enforcement notice and any general questions at this meeting.  

Arbor Hills Landfill was opened in 1970 by Holloway Sand and Gravel.  There have been odor episodes and plenty of other issues throughout the years but residents say it’s never been as bad as it is now. Plymouth, Northville, Salem and Novi residents submitted over 2,000 odor complaints in 2018 alone.

Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Twp. is permitted by the MDEQ. Waste is delivered to the landfill by both haul and transfer loads. According to its website, Arbor Hills accepts municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, municipal and industrial sludges, friable and non-friable asbestos and residual wastes. The facility currently uses tipper service to assist with unloading of waste trailers. 

Arbor Hills Landfill is included in the state of Michigan County Solid Waste Plans, has contracts with residual waste generators in both Michigan and surrounding states and accepts waste from Advanced Disposal subsidiaries and third-party companies, according to its website.

Another odor violation for Arbor Hills Landfill

Advanced Disposal Services has yet another odor violation to add to its collection. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued the violation notice to Advanced Disposal Services, Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. on Jan. 17, 2019. This is the fifteenth violation The Conservancy Initiative has uncovered in its investigation dating back to 2015.

Read the violation

On Janaury 4, 2019, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Air Quality Division (AQD), conducted an odor evaluation and complaint investigation as part of an ongoing investigation of longstanding periodic complaints regarding nuisance odors alleged to be the result of operations at the Advanced Disposal Services, Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. (ADS) located at 10690 West Six Mile Road, Northville, Michigan. (Note: the landfill is in Salem Twp., Washtenaw County but has a Northville mailing address.)

According to the violation notice, “The purpose of this investigation is to determine ADS compliance with the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act; Part 55, Air Pollution Control, and Part 115, Solid Waste Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (Act 451); and the administrative rules promulgated pursuant to these parts; and to investigate recent complaints which we received on January 4, 2019, regarding foul odors attributed to ADS operations.”

During the investigation performed on January 4, 2019, AQD staff detected a distinct and definite objectionable landfill compost/garbage/gas odor along Napier Road before W. Six Mile Road and in the residential area on the southwest side of the Steeplechase Subdivision, specifically Briar Ridge Lane, downwind of the facility.

The observed landfill odor is a violation of Rule 901 (b). The Rule 901(b) violation also constitutes a violation of Rule 433(1)(c) since the landfill odor generated by the facility created a nuisance odor beyond the property boundary, according to the notice.

Advanced Disposal Services must submit a written response to this violation notice by Feb. 11, 2019. The written response should include: the dates the violation occurred; an explanation of the causes and duration of the violation; whether the violation is ongoing; a summary of the actions that have been taken and are proposed to be taken to correct the violation and the dates by which these actions will take place; and what steps are being taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

Who to contact
Scott Miller, MDEQ Air Quality Supervisor
(517) 416-5992 or millers@michigan.gov

Bob Walls, Arbor Hills Landfill general manager
888-443-1717 or Bob.Walls@AdvancedDisposal.com

Arbor Hills Landfill gets violation for gas wells

Advanced Disposal’s Arbor Hills Landfill received yet another violation from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality on Jan. 14, 2019 for failing to properly maintain landfill gas wells. In fact, 19 of 31 wells identified were out of compliance.

Read the violation

Arbor Hills Landfill is Advanced Disposal Service’s only landfill in Michigan and it’s Washtenaw County’s only operating landfill. Most of the waste at Arbor Hills – about 90% – is imported from nearby counties and states, according to data from Washtenaw County.

According to the violation notice: “Advanced Disposal Services -Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. is aware that the NSPS (Standards of Performance for New Sources ) 60.755(a)(5) allows a facility to request an ACT (alternative compliance timeline) for correcting exceedances of GCCS (gas collection and control system) well operating parameters. The deadline for submitting an alternative request is 15 days from the exceedance. Alternative timeline requests received outside of the 15 days may be denied by AQD (MDEQ Air Quality Division). Facilities should include any denied request in their semi-annual deviation reports.”

This is the fourteenth violation for Arbor Hills Landfill we’re aware of, going back to September 2015 when they received a violation for sulfur dioxide emissions. Arbor Hills has received violations from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Learn more

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.”