CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misquoted Orchard Hill Landfill Complaince Officer Chris Phillips.
- A Michigan House bill has been proposed to hike landfill operators' fines for illegal odors, with first and second violations increasing from $10,000 and $25,000 to $20,000 and $40,000, respectively.
- Coloma, MI residents are hoping the bill will pass and force the Orchard Hill Landfill operator to resolve the strong odor emanating from that dump. However, Orchard Hill Landfill Compliance Officer Chris Phillips says the bill proposes massive increases in fines on landfills that are striving to be good neighbors and provide a valuable service in their communities. "Orchard Hill Landfill remains committed to working with our neighbors and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to continuously improve our operations," said Phillips.
- HB 4783 received strong bipartisan support, passing by 77-29. The bill is pending Senate review.
State Rep. Al Pscholka, who drafted the bill, is recruiting constituents to speak up on what he has called a quality of life issue. The DEQ and the Landfill Management Company came to a town hall meeting on Monday to address residents’ concerns, namely the fear they will lose their property value and that the foul air pollution will impact their health.
"We need all hands on deck to address this quality of life issue," said Pscholka, as reported by Michigan House Republicans.
Pscholka has continued to arm residents with means to speak up, recently updating the odor-reporting process. "We should try to do everything we can to try to reduce [the odor]," he said, as reported in WMUK. "And this was a simple measure that said, 'look you’re not doing your job - you need to pay twice the fine.'"
Other states like Georgia have also pushed legislation to address landfill issues impacting nearby residents. As is the case in Michigan, a focus has been not only on getting landfill owners and operators to address potentially dangerous health and environmental issues, but to ensure that residents are made fully aware of these issues so they can take a stand.