- The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a violation notice to the Waste Connections-owned Winnebago Landfill last month over noxious odors and other alleged operational breaches, as reported by Rockford Register Star.
- The notice comes nearly two years after state prosecutors sought court-ordered remedies for landfill gases threatening the health, safety and welfare of residents. Illinois EPA has asked that the landfill install a gas management system capable of preventing off-site odors.
- The agency has also requested that the court issue a $50,000 penalty for every state environmental violation, with an additional $10,000 for each day the violation persists. Prosecutors informed a circuit court judge last week that they plan to meet with landfill representatives to discuss alleged violations. A second status hearing has been set for Sept. 25.
The Winnebago Landfill has belonged to Waste Connections since November 2015, when the company purchased former owner Rock River Environmental Services. The landfill's odor issues, however, precede that acquisition.
Illinois EPA inspections in December 2009 and January 2010 found "notable sulfur-like odors, prompting the agency — along with U.S. EPA — to issue a violation notice in February 2010. According to the state EPA, Winnebago Landfill had taken various measures as of February 2011 to mitigate odors — including screening for incoming odor-causing materials, inspecting gas and leachate collection systems, analyzing weather data to help determine locations of odor sources, and installing additional gas collection wells.
Complaints from neighbors, however, continued — prompting prosecutors to ask a circuit court judge in September 2017 to fine the landfill and order it to control escaping gases.
The state's newest complaint alleges numerous environmental violations, including the spread of hydrogen sulfide and other odors as a result of the landfill's failure to collect emissions.
Winnebago Landfill isn't the only Waste Connections facility affected by hydrogen sulfide woes — the company is currently fielding multiple lawsuits over ongoing odors from its Jefferson Parish Landfill in Louisiana. The gas also presents a challenge to landfill operators around the country: the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the temporary closure of Keegan Landfill last week after a state inspection detected elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide. Ohio county officials are taking steps toward denying a license renewal for the Tunnel Hill-owned Sunny Farms Landfill in the face of ongoing odor issues, and WCA CEO Bill Caesar acknowledged during a recent interview with Waste Dive the need to address hydrogen sulfide emissions in the Houston area generated by storm debris.