State filing lawsuit against Arbor Hills Landfill for violating environmental regulations

Posted at 11:18 AM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 11:18:35-04

SALEM TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit against the operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township for failing to comply with state and federal regulations.

Odor from Arbor Hills Landfill has neighbors questioning safety

Nessel and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy are seeking injunctive relief in Ingham County 30th Circuit Court to require Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. to operate its landfill in compliance with state and federal law for air quality and solid waste management.

“The operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill has continually demonstrated a blatant disregard for the serious concerns raised by community members and the state,” Nessel said. “This site has been a nuisance for years and the potential threat to the health of nearby residents is significant. At this juncture, legal action is clearly a necessity and my office will support EGLE’s enforcement efforts so that our residents’ health and our natural resources are not subjected to the hazardous pollution created by this landfill.”

The lawsuit alleges that Advanced Disposal Services has consistently failed to install an adequate collection and control system to capture gas generated from both active and non-active areas of the landfill and failed to address leachate issues at its landfill. The AG's office said the operator indicated it would fix these problems but has failed to act.

Leachate is the liquid that gathers along the bottom double-liner of a landfill and can include liquid from the waste itself, rainwater and other outside sources. If not properly managed and removed, it can build up and potentially contaminate groundwater and other water resources.

“Our goal is to ensure Arbor Hills Landfill is not a nuisance to neighbors, and that the facility operates safely in compliance with state and federal laws for air quality and waste management,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark.

EGLE began receiving complaints in January 2016 from nearby residents about odor coming from the landfill, which is located at 10690 West Six Mile Road in Washtenaw County’s Salem Township. Solid waste landfills emit air pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide and methane. Hydrogen sulfide emissions contribute to the nuisance odors. Methane is extremely flammable and presents safety risks if not properly managed and allowed to build up.

Following investigations by EGLE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fugitive emissions were found to be the primary source of the odors. The state department issued multiple violation notices to the operator for its failures to properly operate the landfill and the gas collection and control system.