by Sam Levin
The folks behind the smelly Bridgeton landfill are moving forward with a project that they say, in the long run, should make the site a lot less smelly. In the interim, however, it's going to get worse -- potentially a lot worse.
Which is why Republic Services, parent company of Bridgeton Landfill LLC, is offering residents who live within a one-mile radius of the landfill free, alternative housing over the next month or so in hotels.
Why is it getting smellier? The company has planned "intensive work" that requires excavating small sections of the landfill to remove concrete pipe sections. "As a result, this work may increase the odor for local businesses and residents," Republic says. Now, at least, some may be able to escape the stench -- if they choose to relocate.
See also: - Bridgeton Landfill: We All "Want the Same Thing: To Dramatically Reduce the Odor" - Bridgeton Odor Problem: What Is Causing Really Putrid Smell in the City? - Landfill Smell: "Dirty Bomb" Radioactive Hazards or Irresponsible Speculation?
As quick background, residents and nearby businesses in Bridgeton have been complaining about the stench for months -- saying that it comes in waves and at the worst, is so bad they can't escape it even inside their own homes. Since January, the company has repeatedly said that it is doing everything in its power to reduce the smells. But pressure from environmental activists regarding a potential "dirty bomb" and "radioactive hazards" has raised the stakes -- and now Republic Services is facing a legal challenge from Attorney General Chris Koster.
Koster has continued to criticize the officials behind the landfill as he prepares to take them to court -- in part because of some sort of slightly ambiguous underground heat problem (a "fire," "burning waste," ""subsurface smoldering event," depending on whom you ask).
Now, Republic Services is pushing forward with its latest project on May 20, which is expected to finish on June 14. The company calls it the "RCP Abandonment Project" referring to the removal of pipes -- which should help eventually reduce the stench.
"This phase of work focuses on eliminating odor conduits created by reinforced concrete pipes. It will also make the site safer for all onsite workers, and must be completed to prepare the landfill surface for an additional plastic cap on the south quarry," a press release says.
In a statement, Tim Trost, area president for Republic Services, says:
We want to be a good neighbor to those around us. That is why we have volunteered to cover the costs of temporary housing for residents who may be impacted by the odor coming from the RCP Abandonment Project and it is also why we have invested over $20 million to make improvements on a closed landfill.
Representatives of the landfill are going door-to-door to let residents know about this alternative option, which is voluntary. There are about 270 households in the area.
Here are some additional details from the company:
Under this Program, the landfill will pay for the nightly hotel lodging, fees, and taxes for local residents starting on Sunday, May 19 and continuing through the completion of the RCP Project. Residents will be provided rooms with kitchenettes. In addition, there are a number of pet-friendly hotels participating in this Program and the landfill will cover hotel pet fees.
That's right, even your pets can escape the odor!