Category Archives: Northville Township

Residents rise up against Northville Twp. leaders’ inaction

Roughly 100 local residents poured into Northville Twp. Hall on March 21 to voice serious health concerns with Advanced Disposal’s Arbor Hills Landfill in Washtenaw County.

Recent violations issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) show elevated sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels plus mismanagement of asbestos and frac waste. They also detailed a long-ongoing leachate outbreak and issues with sewage sludge.

The landfill has been exceeding sulfur dioxide levels at least since 2015. The landfill’s solution? Raise the allowable levels. Yes, they want to increase the level of pollution and the potential health risks. The landfill has already applied to the MDEQ to do exactly that. Northville Twp. leadership has not notified residents of the potential health issues or the increased pollution in the air. Northville Twp. has not even come out against the landfill raising its SO2 levels.

An April 19, 2016 report by the MDEQ regarding methane (CH4) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions said the hydrogen sulfide emission levels at Arbor Hills Landfill indicate “a potential acute human health hazard.” Read the report

Northville Twp. leaders never notified residents about this report or the elevated hydrogen sulfide levels. In fact, Northville Twp. Supervisor Bob Nix said at the March 21 meeting he was just recently made aware of these issues. Residents say this is hard to believe, especially since The Conservancy Initiative has been posting these reports and violations since 2016 and the township gets copies of violations and relevant reports.

After three-plus years of fighting the mismanagement and proposed expansion of this landfill, residents are tired but also infuriated. For over three years, they have witnessed their township taking little action. The township fired its lobbyist shortly after promising residents he was working full-time to address issues with Arbor Hills Landfill. Township trustees claim they attended landfill meetings that residents can confirm they did not attend. Trustees have told residents this is the “most important issue” in Northville Twp. yet they refuse to even add the landfill to their meeting agendas. Resident requests have been denied.

The Conservancy Initiative environmental nonprofit has been requesting a special town hall meeting for years. The first and only dedicated town hall was Sept. 7, 2017. Hundreds of residents attended. Most were denied their legal right to speak, as Supervisor Nix shut down the meeting while residents were waiting to speak.

On March 21, residents brought their children, protest posters, demands, and lots of questions. They got few answers.

Residents had many demands:

  • Stop sending waste to Arbor Hills Landfill.
  • Notify residents on poor air quality days.
  • Form a commission dedicated to resolving landfill issues.
  • Hold Salem Twp., the landfill’s host community, accountable.
  • Consult a lawyer to determine strategy.
  • Rehire the township lobbyist.
  • Block the landfill’s request to increase sulfur dioxide emissions.
  • Install air quality monitoring stations throughout the community.

Several media outlets were present, increasing the intensity of the meeting.

Northville Record article
Note: This article says Northville Twp. Supervisor Bob Nix invited The Conservancy Initiative president Tracey Birkenhauer to a meeting with the landfill. That is inaccurate. He invited her to a private meeting after he met with the landfill. To date, he has not invited the environmental nonprofit to any meetings with the landfill or with state representatives.

WDIV-Channel 4 story

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

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

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

Stop Arbor Hills updates

View the Aug. 10 solid waste planning meeting, Public comment is at the beginning and end. Northville Township presented at the beginning and Northville School Board Treasurer Matt Wilk presented just after the two-hour mark. Link to most of Matt’s presentation:

How you can help

For more information, contact Stop Arbor Hills at 734-277-2185 or