Thursday, November 9, 2023

Township files for injunction against landfill

Northville Township has asked a court to halt waste dumping in a new section of the Arbor Hills Landfill because of an increase in odor complaints caused by elevated methane gas levels. 

In a motion filed Oct. 26 in Wayne County Circuit Court, the township seeks a temporary restraining order that would prevent Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township from placing waste in the newly created Cell 6. 

“Since the Arbor Hills Landfill has opened Cell 6 in early July, we have seen odor complaints quadruple,” said Northville Township Supervisor Mark J. Abbo. “While EGLE has been trying to work with Arbor Hills, we do not feel they share the same urgency of the board of trustees and residents. As a result, we feel we have no other option than to seek relief from the court,” Abbo said. 

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) issued a violation notice Oct. 10 to the Arbor Hills Landfill  for violating Part 115, Solid Waste Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (“NREPA”). Since Arbor Hills opened Cell 6 in July, more than 462 odor complaints have been made; this is more than half of all of the complaints made in entirety of 2022. 

The motion states, “It is uncontroverted that the AH Landfill is operating in violation of Part 115, Solid Waste Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (“NREPA”), and the administrative rules promulgated by part 115 (“Rules”), of NREPA, and a consent judgment between Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (“EGLE”) and AH Landfill dated 3-7-22 (“EGLE Consent Judgment”). AH Landfill's creation and ongoing nature of nuisance conditions are documented and indisputable.” 

Despite the dramatic increase in complaints from Northville residents, EGLE and Arbor Hills Landfill have agreed to an extension to remedy the situation. The agreement gives Arbor Hills until Jan. 18, 2024, for the completion and implementation of remedial measures to ensure compliance with the rules (not for abatement of nuisance conditions). 

“We cannot allow our residents to be exposed to these extreme methane gas levels, and horrible smells for another 90 days,” continued Abbo. “The health and wellness of our residents is a top priority. That is why we are calling on the court to issue a restraining order preventing Arbor Hills from using Cell 6 until all of the proper safety measures are in place.” 

In the violation notice, EGLE documented 31 areas of the Arbor Hills Landfill that have methane levels higher than the state limits. These areas include the new Cell 6, 2 acres at the top of the landfill and a leachate riser east of Cell 6. 

“Arbor Hills Landfill has repeatedly stated that they are working to improve the conditions at the landfill; however, things have only deteriorated,” added Northville Township Clerk Cynthia L. Jankowski. “On behalf of our residents, we need a resolution.” 

This temporary restraining order is the latest chapter in the lawsuit Northville Township filed in November 2021 against Arbor Hills to stop noxious odors, prevent excess pollutants being discharged and to protect Johnson Creek, the only cold-water trout stream in the area. 

A hearing will be scheduled by the court to address the motion.