Elevated temperature landfill event further degrading gas system

The MDEQ issued additional Notices of Violation (NOVs) to both Advanced Disposal and Fortistar Methane Group. For those keeping track, that makes at least 9 Violations already this year. This week’s violations seem more serious.

Fortistar violation  |  Advanced violation

The violations allege:An Elevated Temperature Landfill (ETLF) event is negatively impacting the landfill Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) and exacerbating the odor problem at the landfill. [Advanced Disposal and Fortistar] failed to adequately diagnose the problem and has yet to fully implement corrective actions that are required to contain the event.

EPA regulations require landfill operators to monitor gas collection well-head conditions (pressure, temperature, O2 content, etc) to control landfill conditions and protect against landfill fires. Advanced Disposal’s gas collection system consists of over 400 collection wells. Actions are required whenever well head gas temperatures exceed 131 F and/or O2 levels exceed 5%. It is not uncommon for an isolated well to exceed these parameters for short durations. Normally, corrective actions are quickly implemented and are effective. 

ETLF events are rare and are not well understood. An ETLF event is not isolated to one or two wells; it can involve a significant section of the landfill. Typical problems associated with elevated temperatures in landfills include: damage to the landfill gas and leachate collection system (they are plastic pipe); the potential for damage to the liner; increase in leachate leakage; landfill sink holes and gas bubbles under the cover system. All of these symptoms can result in increased odors and may be responsible for the increased odors we are experiencing. 

The MDEQ appears to be encouraged this rare landfill condition was diagnosed by the landfill’s new manager, who recently took over. 

In addition to the violations, the MDEQ released a comprehensive report of the inspections conducted at the landfill during the first quarter this year. This report documents the basis for violations issued earlier this year. The MDEQ is using our odor complaint data to make a point. Odor complaints are increasing (even though the MDEQ still doesn’t count every odor report in its tally).

Monthly odor complaints recorded by MDEQ

The inspection report is the first we learn that the MDEQ has required Advanced to submit a Fugitive Dust Control Plan due to the track out on roads outside the landfill. Advanced has committed to adding rumble strips at the exit of the landfill to shake dust/dirt from trucks leaving and purchasing/using a new road sweeper. We should keep an eye out for this as the weather improves.

We will be given an update on the status of the landfill and have a chance to ask questions during an informational town hall scheduled for 7 – 8:30 PM on April 16 at Northville High School. Northville Township Supervisor Bob Nix, MDEQ representatives, state Sen. Dayna Polehanki and state Rep. Matt Koleszar plus others will be present. The Conservancy Initiative President, Tracey Birkenhauer, will speak at the beginning of the town hall as well.

Please plan to attend to show these officials how important this issue is to us. If you have a question, please write it on a 3 x 5 card which will be collected for the group to read and answer as time permits.

We are also hosting a bake sale fundraiser during the event. Drop off your baked goods from 4-5:30 p.m. at Northville High School. We will sell the goodies before, during and after the town hall. We will also accept cash and check donations. Make checks payable to The Conservancy Initiative, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation.

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