I realize the Scott J. Nally has only been in his position as director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency less than a year, and it takes time to get up to speed on various issues facing the OEPA.
One issue I would hope he would give every consideration to is that of the Apex Landfill in Jefferson County.
I have forwarded to Nally a copy of a letter that was drafted in July 2009 in response to Apex's request for 10,000 tons per day along with a vertical expansion and slope revisions. Because of pending litigation, that letter was never sent. However, I feel it is necessary that he considers the content of that letter because it demonstrates the inability or unwillingness of Apex to curtail the horrendous odors generated by the landfill.
It is currently my understanding that Apex has made application for an increase in tonnage from the current 7,500 tons per day to 10,000 tons per day, and has asked for an additional vertical or horizontal expansion above what was granted in December 2009.
At the hearing held regarding the original request for 10,000 tons, we pointed out that Apex did not effectively control the odors at the 5,200- ton limit and that the proposed odor control plan was, with the exception of the flare, essentially the same plan for 5,000 tons, which was ineffective at best.
As Nally can see, the complaint statistics from 2008 and 2009 increased in spite of the proposed odor control plan stated in the permit.
Since Dec. 31, 2009, when the tonnage was increased to the 7,500-ton limit, to Nov. 14, the complaints have been recorded by the Jefferson County Health district as being 2,178. This is a marked increase over the 2008 and 2009 recordings.
It would stand to reason this increase in complaints is directly proportional to the increase in tonnage as well as the ineffectiveness of their so-called odor control plan. Additionally, the vertical expansion allowances also have contributed to the increased geographic range of the complaints.
It is my understanding the OEPA took aggressive enforcement action against a landfill in Lorain County because it had received 87 odor complaints.
Perhaps other districts are taking a much more aggressive and proactive stance when it comes to regulations than our Southeast District officials. Based on our our experience with those officials, they have been enablers as opposed to regulators. I would not include Dale Warner and Aaron Pennington in this assessment.
We have been told on numerous occasions by South East officials, "We have to follow the law as written."
Our question is, if this is the case, why can't they follow the Ohio Administrative Code 3745-27-01 (N)(6): "'Nuisance' means anything which is injurious to human health or offensive to the senses; interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property; and affects a community, neighborhood or any considerable number of persons (although the extent of annoyance or damages inflicted upon individual persons may be unequal)."
And, Ohio Administrative Code 3745-27-19 (B)(3): "The owners or operators shall operate the facility in such a manner that noise, dust and odors are strictly controlled so as not to cause a nuisance or health hazard."
Regardless of how lawyers or the court may interpret the above rules, any sane person would agree these rules were intended to keep the very things that are happening at Apex from occurring.
We would ask that Nally please explain to our group, the Tri-County Concerned Citizens, why Apex is not and has not been, for the past four years, in clear violation of the referenced rules?
In light of our current circumstances, it would lead me to believe that at some level of enforcement within the OEPA, there has been a conscious effort to either ignore or disregard the current laws in effect designed to protect the public from the obvious violations that have been in effect for years.
This permit went into effect in December 2009 with the promise that an effective odor control plan would reduce significantly the offensive nuisance odor emanating from this landfill.
I have taken the liberty to provide the monthly tonnage reports as submitted to the Jefferson-Belmont Solid Waste secretary, as well as formal citizen complaints compiled by the Jefferson County Health Department for the period of Dec. 31, 2009, up to Oct. 31 of this year.
I am respectfully requesting a meeting with Nally or his designee to discuss these issues, coupled with our concerns regarding the lack of cooperation from the Southeast District officials. Should this meeting be approved, I would be willing to bring five residents of this affected area who are educated, responsible, even tempered and interested in resolving this issue.
(Gardner represents the Tri-County Concerned Citizens.)