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Engineers cite odor causes, solutions for Ontario County landfill

Engineers for Ontario County and its landfill manager Casella Waste Systems offered no surprises Wednesday in presenting draft findings targeting odor control at the landfill in the town of Seneca.

Ripening landfill odor over the last six months has right along been attributed to several main culprits: Overabundance of wet sewage sludge, an ineffective gas collection system and insufficient covering that leaves landfill sections exposed. What the county Board of Supervisors Planning and Environmental Quality Committee learned at the presentation was that causes and a slew of recommended solutions are generally agreed upon by both parties — by CEC, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. hired by Casella, and SCS Engineers of New York, PC, hired by the county.

Recommended actions such as expanding the gas collection system, reducing the amount of sewage sludge — what the engineers call biosolids — have been underway. Casella wasn’t waiting for the findings to improve and will continue to work on fixes going forward, said Sam Nicolai, Casella vice president of engineering and compliance. He called the draft findings “an important milestone,” adding it’s “not the end of the story.”

Timothy Nytra, principal with CEC, said four monthly landfill site visits, this January through April, included tracking wind direction and how air dispersed landfill odor. CEC received input from Odor Science and Engineering, Inc. and Towpath Investigative Services, an independent third party that handles Casella’s odor investigations. Primary recommendations included adding and expanding the gas collection system and pumping liquid out of the wells. A pilot project involving 13 new wells installed last year showed the need for adding pumps.

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