Apex Landfill complaints aired before Jefferson County commissioners, OEPA help sought

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday were asked to help in getting the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to enforce regulations at the Apex Landfill outside Amsterdam.

Fritz Tulencik, who lives near the landfill, said garbage odors and methane gas escaping from the landfill again have become unbearable to residents.

The county health department reported complaint calls concerning the landfill have doubled this month.

Tulencik said problems at the landfill have been ongoing for a decade. He noted the landfill has resumed bringing in garbage from New York and New Jersey.

Commissioner Dave Maple said a a letter will be sent to the Ohio EPA, with copies to the governor and local legislators, and Commissioner Tom Gentile said commissioners will request a written response from the Ohio EPA.

Commissioner Thomas Graham noted the commissioners in the past have pressured the state regulatory agency for enforcement at the landfill.

Tulencik said the Ohio EPA receives a large amount of money from the Apex Landfill from tipping fees. He noted the EPA encourages recycling to reduce waste taken to a landfill and allows garbage from the East Coast to be dumped at Apex.

“No amount of money going to the agency is worth the hell residents are going through,” Graham said, adding he has received numerous phone calls from residents about complaints concerning the landfill and odors.

“The rules and regulations are not being followed (at the landfill) and not being enforced by the EPA. I’m here to get the EPA to do what it is supposed to do. These are rules and regulations, not suggestions,” Tulencik said.

Gentile called the tipping fees going to fund the Ohio EPA the “fox watching the henhouse.” He said the Ohio EPA has never given a solid response on complaints about the landfill.

In other matters, commissioners were informed by Toronto county court Judge Lisa Ferguson about a $122,000 grant the three county courts received from the Ohio Supreme Court to upgrade computer software. The remaining cost of the software will come from court costs collected, Ferguson said.

Dillonvale county court Judge David Scarpone said with the new software, police officers will be able to file traffic tickets electronically with the court — as opposed to driving to the courts — and that will keep officers in their jurisdiction.

Ferguson said the three county courts now will be connected, allowing judges to research a person’s prior convictions before sentencing.

Commissioners also discussed the need for policies concerning the parking lot that will be constructed where the courthouse annex once stood.

There will be 37 parking spaces in the lot for the public visiting the courthouse. Gentile said there are currently 10 reserved parking spaces near the courthouse for the commissioners and judges that will have to be incorporated into the parking lot.

Commissioners noted courthouse employees will not be allowed to use the new parking lot.

In other business, the commissioners:

¯ Opened bids for road improvements on county Road 1 on the hill going out of Glen Robbins but both bids were well above the estimate of $441,709. The project will have to be re-bid.

¯ Agreed to advertise for a bridge replacement on Mount Pleasant Township Road 129. The estimate is $129,899.

¯ Agreed to a gas and oil lease for 56 acres of county property in Island Creek and Springfield townships. The county will receive $169,488 from Chesapeake Exploration and a gross royalty of 20 percent on the gas removed.

¯ Proclaimed next week as National Small Business Week at the request of the county chamber of commerce. The commissioners also proclaimed Thursday at National Day of Prayer in the county.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)