Landfill group continues to collaborate with Shawnee on new odor, trash pick-up regulations
As Shawnee and Waste Management officials work to create new odor and trash pick-up regulations in response to a recent spike in complaints, the operators of the Johnson County Landfill have outlined some of the steps they've already taken to make up for a tumultuous couple of months.
Odor complaints reached unprecedented numbers last fall and winter because of excess moisture in a landfill cell at the Deffenbaugh landfill, now owned an managed by Waste Management. The odor problem came just months after Waste Management purchased the company from Deffenbaugh.
While Waste Management officials like Jim Murray, the senior district manager, said the transition to Waste Management was beneficial to the company, he did admit last month that some things fell through the cracks — mainly, he said, communication and collaboration between the company and the city of Shawnee.
On Monday, Murray spoke to the Shawnee City Council as the board considered extending a special use permit for the landfill for three months. The city and Waste Management are drafting new regulations over that time to create a plan for oversight and accountability to make sure an odor problem like the one in 2015 doesn't happen again.
Murray said Waste Management has installed a new and extensive gas reclamation system that burns off the odorous gases produced at the landfill and has implemented a plan to be proactive in the future. Murray said Waste Management will build a gas pipeline system before any new trash is dumped into a new cell so that gas doesn't have the chance to build up.
Council Member Brandon Kenig asked Murrary how the company will react to future spells of wet weather and if more rain will always mean more odor. Murray said the landfill, particularly in the cell that created the problems last fall, will now be able to adjust its gas reclamation system for any weather pattern to burn off more gas if needed.
Murray said Waste Management has also taken steps to alleviate concerns about trash and litter pickup along the Interstate 435 corridor adjacent to the landfill. Waste Management paid for 536 hours of labor in February specifically for the purpose of litter pick up.
The city will be incorporating requirements like trash pick-up and odor control into its new regulations, as well as establishing a set standard for how the city and landfill handle odor complaints and respond to the public.
The City Council approved the extension of the special use permit for the landfill until the regulations are established. Several members of the council also took the opportunity to comment Waste Management for working with the city to fix the problem.
"This is an excellent example of the city and landfill working together to solve a mutual problem," Jim Neighbor said.
Since Waste Management addressed the problem and installed the new gas pipeline system at the end of February, odor complaints in the area has dropped significantly.
"It has gotten markedly better," said Stephanie Meyer, who represents the ward of the city the landfill is in.