SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18)– The Kentucky Cabinet of Energy and Environment has issued an agreed order, placing parameters on a Central Kentucky waste company following 440 complaints filed by Scott County residents regarding the smell of the landfill.
LEX 18’s Claire Kopsky sat down with the Chief Operating Officer of Waste Services of the Bluegrass to understand the story behind the stench.
“A lot of our citizens have had to put up with just, you know, major odor issues. And it’s a concern,” said Joe Pat Covington, the Scott County Judge Executive.
In the past several years, Waste Services of the Bluegrass scored contracts with new counties including part of Fayette County in 2015.
Quarterly reports from the Division of Waste Management outline how much waste came in from those counties. In the first quarter of 2016, the intake from Fayette County jumped from almost 3,700 tons to more than 50,000 tons, filling the landfill much faster than before.
The question is, did that lead to an increase in the stench? Chief Operating Officer Greg Elkins says that depends on the decomposition of the waste.
“It will start almost immediately but to reach any kind of level that’s noticeable, 5-10 years I’m guessing. That’s a guess,” said Elkins.
He told LEX 18 that there are multiple factors to why the odor is becoming such an issue.
“The reason there may have been odor issues over the past couple years was the lack of ability to drill wells to extract the methane from the landfill. If you can’t vacuum it out, it’s going to find a path to escape,” said Elkins.
Elkins said that they had a lack of ability to drill wells because the expansion they requested back in 2012 wasn’t approved and still hasn’t been.
“Had our expansion not been halted, we would have drilled those wells immediately,” he said.
Elkins said gas has been getting out for years. But, the company didn’t need approval to build more space to add wells they still had space in their current permit to do so.
Looking back, Elkins said that they should have built more space and wells sooner to properly dispose of the gas. Now, by the first week of April, he said that the landfill should have 31 operating wells. Right now, it only has 14.
“I think they will drastically decrease the odor. They are the best means that we have in the industry of eliminating odors,” said Elkins.
Some residents say they’ll believe it when they smell it.
“Smelling is believing. I’ll believe it whenever I can see a difference. When I can go outside and grill without having to smell it and it ruin my supper,” said resident Mary Mudd.
Covington said there have been several violations and just last year, 440 complaints filed by 150 residents.
The Agreed Order issued states that within 60 days of March 23, the company must notify the Energy and Environment Cabinet of their two corrective action plans for an odor tracking plan and an ‘escaped’ or Fugitive Emissions Plan.
“We are trying our best to fix them as quickly as possible. Bear with us. We will get this under control and we will keep it under control going forward,” said Elkins.