Ohio board approves renewal permit at Sunny Farms Landfill
Sunny Farms Landfill, Fostoria Ohio
Tunnel Hill Partners.

Ohio board approves renewal permit at Sunny Farms Landfill

Landfill to pay $3.7M penalty for water, air pollution violations and ‘underreported’ fees with waste entering site.

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Fostoria, Ohio-based Sunny Farms Landfill can continue operations after receiving a permit renewal from the Seneca County Board of Health, which previously planned to deny the permit following public complaints of “pungent odors” at the site.

After nearly 300 complaints of odors, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action against the landfill in January, which led to a $4 million settlement to address the odors at the landfill. The agency reached another settlement with the site July 26, with Sunny Farms agreeing to pay $1.7 million to resolve alleged violations of water, solid waste and air pollution control laws and $2 million for “underreported and mischaracterized fees associated with waste entering landfill facilities”

The EPA will receive $1.1 million and $600,000 will be held in a trust titled, The Fostoria, Ohio Community Trust.,” which was created to improve public health and wellness in the Fostoria community and “for the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the air, water, public lands and natural resources in and around Fostoria.”

Established in 1970, Sunny Farms has invested the $4 million in new technology, equipment and new processes to reduce odors caused by hydrogen sulfide gasses from the thousands of tons of construction and demolition debris the landfill accepts daily.

A new hydrogen sulfide treatment system, a capping project, which covers parts of the landfill that has reached capacity, expansion of a gas collection system and a wastewater treatment system to remove hydrogen sulfide are among the projects to reduce odors at the site.

Complaints have gone down and “we are observing much lower and fewer occurrences of hydrogen sulfide from our daily measurements,” says Matt Neely, senior vice president of Tunnel Hill. The project has taken collaboration between the Ohio EPA, Sunny Farms and the health district to address the odor issues.

In addition to many requirements the landfill was given by the EPA to eliminate odors, Sunny Farms must establish a community outreach program, including a website and social media forums to notify the community of any malfunction, power outage or event that may cause odors beyond the facility’s boundary.

“We now have a clear plan moving forward, with the full backing and authority of the court, to ensure that short and long-term environmental issues at Sunny Farms are effectively addressed,” Laurie Stevenson, Ohio EPA director, says in a news release. “This consent order also sets aside funding for community projects to improve the quality of life for residents of Fostoria and areas surrounding the landfill.”

The permit, approved by the board Monday, allows the site to continue operations through at least the end of 2019, according to a report by The Toledo Blade.