State legislators working to increase fines for Arbor Hills Landfill violations

Posted at 5:57 AM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 07:29:57-04

SALEM TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township is coming under fire – now from state legislators.

  • Odor from Arbor Hills Landfill has neighbors questioning safety

The landfill has had a growing number of violations with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. In February 7 Action News reported on three violations that had been filed since the start of the year, more have piled up since that time.

“They’ve been egregious,” said State Senator Dayna Polehanki. “This necessitates some sore of legislation to up the ante a bit.”

She, and State Rep. Matt Koleszar, are doing that by filing a bill that could increase the amount the MDEQ can fine landfills by up to 10 times the current amount. In the past, residents who’ve raised concerns about the landfill said that MDEQ can do little more than give a slap on the wrist. This bill aims to change that.

“Until it happens people are still going to be concerned,” said Northville Township Supervisor Bob Nix. “There’s a lot of angst and anguish because this has been going on three-and-a-half years. The odors they haven’t dissipated, they’ve increased.”

Nix has been involved, but finding a solution is easier said than done. The landfill operate by Advanced Disposal Services is technically located in Washtenaw County’s Salem Township. Most of the residents with concerns live in Wayne County, where dozens of odor complaints have been filed — including complaints at a local school.

While Tuesday’s forum was held by Polehanki and Koleszar to get a better feel for how locals felt, there was big news from an advocacy group that has been fighting with ADS for years.

Tracey Birkenhauer, the founding member of Stop Arbor Hills, announced that she intended to give the company notice of a lawsuit she intends to file under the Clean Air Act.

“We’re bring the hammer down,” said Birkenhauer at a microphone in front of a packed auditorium. “It’s happening.”

7 Action News is working to get reaction from Advanced Disposal Services about the proposed change in fines, and the lawsuit -- back in February the company stated that they regretted the inconvenience adding the following statement about the odors:

While we cannot promise to reduce odors to zero, we are constantly evaluating changes in operational practices, technologies and odor control systems to minimize the spread of incidental off-site odors.