Foul odors emanating from the Central Landfill in Johnston have reached beyond the borders of the town, amid concerns from some local businesses that the smell may be keeping customers away.
Since early October, residents in Johnston have been complaining about the rotten-egg smell wafting through the air from the landfill at 65 Shun Pike. The R.I. Department of Environmental Management has been monitoring the site since then and has found that the R.I. Resource Recovery Corporation, the quasi-public agency that manages the landfill, has not been in compliance with odor regulations, said Janet Coit, director of the DEM.
An odor violation is issued when an odor that is determined to be objectionable is detected beyond the property line of the facility. Since Oct. 12, the DEM has found the landfill noncompliant with the odor regulations on six days, with the most recent date documented on Nov. 28, the DEM said.
The department is deciding whether or not to fine the agency, but first just wants the odor to be eliminated, Coit said.
On Dec. 7, the General Assembly announced it is forming a special House commission, led by Rep. Stephen R. Ucci, D-Johnston, to investigate ways to end the smell.
“We should see what works at other landfills and insist that RIRRC take the steps necessary to fix this problem and avoid similar situations from now on,” he said in a news release.
The resource-recovery agency has said the odors have been caused in part by rainwater clogging underground pipes that draw gases away from the landfill. The agency outlined a plan to address them. The DEM said it agreed with the actions and “encouraged” the corporation to continue to communicate with the public about the progress. The resource-recovery agency will address the matter by using soil to cap more of the landfill, by installing more gas-collection wells and by working to clear flooded gas-collection pipes and wells.
But neighbors and others still don’t understand why the smell is so strong and can reach beyond the town’s borders.
The Alpine Country Club, 251 Pippin Orchard Rd. in Cranston, is nearly 2.5 miles southwest of the Central Landfill. Liane Boucher, director of sales for the country club, says the smell is usually worse in November but this year it’s especially bad.
“It’s horrendous and depending on the way the wind is blowing, some days are worse than others,” she said.
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