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EPA Orders RI Landfill to Follow Environmental Laws to Ensure Emission Standards Met

Release Date: 01/24/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Central Landfill in Johnston, RI, one of the largest municipal landfills on the East Coast, to take immediate actions to come into compliance with provisions of the Clean Air Act.

In an administrative order issued Friday, EPA New England ordered the 150-acre landfill, which serves all of Rhode Island, to complete tests, monitoring and design plans required to address gas emissions from the landfill under the New Source Performance Standards of the Clean Air Act.

According to the administrative order, the landfill owners and operators have failed to comply with a federal New Source Performance Standard. This standard applies to large scale landfills that have been expanded or modified since May 30, 1991, criteria the Central Landfill meets. The owners have also failed to obtain a required operating permit, the order said. And they have failed to submit notification reports and control plans, failed to conduct testing on pieces of the landfill gas control system and failed to conduct various types of monitoring.

The action stems from an inspection of the landfill conducted on July 23 by EPA. Since the spring of 1999 there have been several thousand complaints made to EPA and the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) of nauseating odors as far as two miles or more from the landfill.

"The problems and the horrendous odors surrounding the Central Landfill are unacceptable," said Mindy S. Lubber, acting regional administrator for EPA New England. "This order is a first step towards cleaning up an environmental problem that should not be allowed to persist."

EPA ordered the owners and operators of the landfill to conduct tests to determine how much gas the landfill is capable of generating, which will help determine the adequacy of the existing gas collection and control system. The tests and notifications will also help determine whether or not there have been illegal levels of emissions from the landfill, and if and how the collection and control systems can be modified to reduce the odors.

In November, the Central Landfill Action Committee was formed to act as a forum where concerns about the landfill and surrounding areas can be raised and to advise the appropriate organizations about potential solutions. The committee consists of citizens, state legislators, town counselors, the mayor of Johnston, DEM representatives, a doctor from the RI Department of Health, Resource Recovery Corporation (RRC) representatives, and a representative from the EPA. Meetings are held at 6:30 pm on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Ferri Middle School in Johnston.

Among the five parties named in the order is the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, a quasi-public corporation that operates the trash receiving activities of the landfill and owns some parts of the landfill gas collection and control system. Other parties named are the Central Gas Corporation, the LKD Central Limited Partnership, the Central Gas Limited Partnership and the Ridgewood/Providence Power Company -- all of which own or operate some parts of the landfill gas collection and control system.