SPSA discusses odor problem

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The odor coming from the regional landfill is nowhere near as bad as it was this time last year.

That was the consensus of board members of the Southeastern Public Service Authority at their monthly meeting Wednesday. Complaints from residents who live near the Suffolk facility have dropped considerably, and some of the landfill’s more outspoken neighbors have told board members the situation has improved.

Even so, the trash disposal authority continues the measures it implemented nearly a year ago to try to reduce the odor, such as using more daily cover on the open cell of the landfill.

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“We’re trying our best to make sure the neighborhood doesn’t have to keep putting up with odor,” SPSA executive director Rowland Taylor said.

The authority also has put in an application to use additional cover on its open cell and will examine the results of a temperature study, expected to be completed next month, in its most recently filled cell.

The temperature study will help determine if more pressure can be placed on the gas wells in the cell, thereby removing more gas and preventing less from escaping into the environment.

For more than a year, residents in the Nansemond Parkway and Wilroy Road areas have complained of a foul odor in the area. Some said it made them sick with symptoms like nausea, headaches, nosebleeds and vomiting.

The authority also will examine options such as permanently closing cell five, which is full, or putting a rain cap on a portion of cell six. Neither option is guaranteed to eliminate all of the odor, Taylor said.

“There’s a lot that’s being done to operate the landfill in a responsible way and as a good neighbor,” said John Barnes, an ex officio member of the board from Virginia Beach. “This is a tremendously valuable project, or asset, but if we can’t fix the problem it’s going to be a problem for us.”

If the problem cannot be solved through less drastic measures, board members said, the authority may have to stop accepting waste at the landfill.

“It seems to me we are doing all the right things,” said Joseph Leafe, a member of the board from Norfolk.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board members briefly discussed how they will dispose of their garbage past 2018, the state-mandated sunset date of SPSA.

Some localities expressed concern that they have not received any information about what a SPSA-like organization could look like after that date.

One board member likened it to trying to buy a car without knowing the model or the price.

The members were assured that a study will be completed in April that analyzes the options for regional garbage disposal past that date.