- Waste Connections has issued a letter to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) protesting the agency’s recent statements tying Jefferson Parish Landfill — a Waste Connections-operated site — to the bulk of ongoing odor emissions in the area.
- The letter — which, as the New Orleans Advocate reports, comes just days after a fifth lawsuit was filed over the parish landfill’s liquid and gas collection system — claims LDEQ’s announcement regarding the facility is “without a basis in fact or science,” pointing to various other nearby facilities and operations identified as potential odor sources.
- In an interview with the Advocate, LDEQ official Mike Algero defended the agency and urged the parish landfill to address its “significant amount of non-compliance," including as documented gas and leachate leakages. He also said the agency would consider meeting with company representatives to review scientific evidence regarding area odors.
Jefferson Parish Landfill’s troubles began long before LDEQ’s most recent public statements: persistent odors in the area — the subject of 679 official complaints from local residents between August 2017 and September 2018 — have prompted multiple pending class-action lawsuits. Scrutiny has intensified since early December, when LDEQ determined the facility to be the primary source of emissions after a 14-month investigation.
The Dec. 20 Waste Connections letter, however, challenges the extent of the parish landfill’s culpability: multiple reports — including a Louisiana Department of Health report and a Waste Connections-commissioned study by SCS Engineers released this past October — have identified other adjacent landfills, industrial plants and operations that might serve as potential culprits. According to Waste Connections, LDEQ staff have also been visiting the site themselves on a daily basis since at least August.
“[LDEQ’s] disregard of the facts suggests a bias and agenda on the part of certain agency personnel that must be addressed, particularly in light of the numerous plaintiff’s [sic] lawyers attempting to leverage your agency’s statements for litigation advantage in lawsuits targeting [a Waste Connections subsidiary] and Jefferson Parish,” the letter says, going on to call for a “scientific, evidence-based assessment” of emissions sources: “The public demands this, and the agency’s improper and biased targeting of Jefferson Parish Landfill only delays a solution to the odor problems.”
Waste Connections says that while it has "invested heavily" in improvements since assuming control of the site in 2013, those efforts have been undermined by LDEQ "misinforming the public" through statements that "have wrongly scapegoated the Landfill and caused it financial harm.”
In the meantime, Jefferson Parish Landfill is still fielding a bevy of legal headaches — the plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits have filed a motion asking for immediate access to the site in order to conduct their own environmental testing, asserting that ongoing repair work on the gas and liquid collection systems could erase critical evidence against the landfill.