- Kansas residents and government officials say that odors from the Johnson County Landfill — owned by Waste Management (WM) — have been getting increasingly worse and are demanding a solution.
- WM points to a 2012 county rule requiring that yard waste be composted separately as the reason for these odor issues. Though officials have disputed this claim and say the company isn't processing the organic material properly.
- City planners are currently reviewing the special permit which lets WM operate the site. No decision will be made until an outside consultant conducts a study, which could take three to four months.
While the odor's cause is disputed, it's clear that something different is going on this year. The city of Shawnee, where the landfill is located, has recorded 197 complaints since January — already more than the amount recorded for all of 2015. WM purchased full control of the site in March 2015. Since then the company has installed new gas collection wells and flares, but its relationship with local officials has been contentious at times.
The separation of yard waste and grass clippings is intended to be more environmentally friendly, but some say those materials are needed to help other refuse in the landfill decompose faster. WM says the large amount of wet yard waste it's received lately has made separate composting a challenge and recently requested permission to put 300 tons of it directly in the landfill. County officials denied that request and said an inspection of the site showed material had been allowed to pile up for too long.
Organic waste odors have been problematic for sites, especially as more municipalities look to process the material separately rather than bury it in landfills. Delaware's Peninsula Compost facility was shut down by the state in 2014 due to ongoing odor issues. California's Newby Island Landfill has also been working on odor mitigation around its composting operation recently.