Landfill odor returns

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A recurrence of odor coming from the Southeastern Public Service Authority landfill in Suffolk is being attributed to the installation of wells designed to suppress the stench.

Construction began on the wells Aug. 17, and should be completed by Oct. 1, according to a report on the authority’s website.

Nearby residents began complaining of a stench emanating from the landfill last winter, noting that the odor caused medical problems such as headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, vomiting and breathing trouble.

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Investigations by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and a study commissioned by the authority both found that the odor was caused by a mixture of common landfill gases and that it was coming from the landfill.

As a result, the DEQ directed SPSA to install gas collection wells in the landfill’s current cell. Heavy rains in the fall of 2009 caused the trash to decompose at a much faster rate, thus causing the unusual stench, DEQ officials said.

“During the actual digging of the wells, there may be some odors that emit from the landfill, but these should be minimal and hopefully remain on the site,” SPSA’s report on the recurrence of the odor states. “SPSA continues to take all other actions necessary to minimize any odor releases from the landfill.”

Other actions the authority took included reducing the size of the area used to dump trash, and covering the trash more frequently and with more material.

Once the wells are installed and connected, the gas will be burned by a flare or used to produce power.

For more information on the authority, visit