Battle brewing over Rumpke chemical treatment

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - A battle is brewing in Colerain Township over plans to increase chemical treatment at Rumpke's landfill.

The Ohio Environment Protection Agency (EPA) plans to hold a public hearing on Tuesday to determine if Rumpke should be allowed to implement a 300% increase in the use of a chemical deodorant.

The chemicals are used to help fight the odor coming from the landfill.

A grassroots group called POWER, or Property Owners Want Equal Rights, says there's an underground fire at Rumpke's landfill, which has caused a significant increase in odor complaints.

Rumpke officials negated the claim, saying there is no fire and that measures are being taken to address the odor problem.

POWER has filed a formal complaint with the Ohio EPA about the smell coming from Rumpke's Colerain landfill.

Power's President Rich McVay says an underground fire at the landfill has been burning since 2009.

"As a result of this fire, the odor complaints in Colerain Township have increased 400% over the last three years."

McVay says the stench, along with the chemical deodorizer, is threatening the quality of life in the surrounding area.

"Many residents have expressed some health concerns about the spray, which they think is due to that deodorant, things like rashes and asthmatic conditions."

McVay says those odors constitute a nuisance under state law, and that's why he says he's asking the Ohio EPA to tell Rumpke no.

"Residents are essentially asking that the EPA deny this request for this masking agent and ask Rumpke to cease and desist and to fix the basic cause of the fire which is generating the odors," McVay explained.

In our commitment to balanced news, FOX19 reached out to Rumpke's Corporate Communications Director, Amanda Pratt, to get Rumpke's side of the story.

Pratt says, "The deodorizer itself is non-toxic. It's made from plant, fruit and vegetable extracts."

According to Pratt, Rumpke has been using deodorizers at the landfill for the past 15 years, but as the operation has grown, they need to use more of the sweet smelling chemical and for that, they need Ohio EPA approval.

Pratt says, "We're asking to increase it because of new odors at the site associated with our different components of the operation."

Pratt also says there's nothing burning underground.

"It's not a fire. Initially, when it was discovered was August 2009 and what we found was that there were two gas recovery wells here at the landfill that had elevated temperatures."

Rumpke insists those elevated temperatures are the result of an underground chemical reaction, which in turn causes odors.

Rumpke has covered that area of the landfill with a rubberized blanket, and they've installed more odor control sprayers along with thousands of feet of gas collection trenches.

But some of rumpke's neighbors say that's not good enough.

The Ohio EPA plans to hold a public hearing on Rumpke's request to use more deodorizer on April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Colerain Township Community Center, located at 4300 Springdale Road.

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