Jefferson County commissioners on Oct. 11 made a wise decision that hopefully will help alleviate the odor problems associated with the Apex Landfill.
The landfill has been the focus of odor concerns for the past several years. Residents have been coming to the commissioners' meetings voicing concerns that they can't keep their windows open in warm weather, sit outside or even schedule a family outing, such as a cookout.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the county health department have issued violations against Apex for the odors.
A large portion of the garbage shipped to Apex comes from the East Coast in railcars.
Liberty Waste Transportation, currently known as ELS Transportation, borrowed $19 million to construct the Apex Landfill and purchase sealed waste containers.
The bond was issued through the Columbiana County Port Authority in 1994. ELS Transportation wants to restructure the bond for economic benefits.
The commissioners have been asking the landfill's current and past owners to take steps to eliminate or reduce the odors.
The source of the odors is obvious. The garbage is packed into the railroad cars and shipped to Jefferson County. The railroad cars sit for a period, sometimes several days, at the Mingo Junction railroad yard, and Mingo Junction officials have complained about odors coming from the containers sitting at the rail yard.
The containers are then moved to the landfill where they are opened and the stench permeates the air for miles before the waste is covered. Residents living several miles away have smelled the odor.
The landfill also takes in sludge by train and truck. The landfill in Brooke County was forced to stop taking sludge years ago because of the odor.
The commissioners have to give approval for the bond restructuring to take place. The commissioners simply could have said "no" and the company would face an economic hardship. But the commissioners realized it could mean the loss of jobs if the economic hardship is severe. The commissioners instead put the ball back in Apex's lap and said tell the commissioners and residents what the company is willing to do about the odor complaints before a decision is made on the bond restructuring.
Whether it is even possible to eliminate or reduce the odors remains to be determined. All landfills have an odor, but the complaints with Apex appear to be excessive.
But something has to be done for the residents.
The company obviously is making a profit off the landfill but residents shouldn't have to spend the spring, summer and fall with their house windows closed or even worry about hosting a cookout because of the obnoxious odors.
At least the commissioners are holding something over Apex's head to try to find a solution.