Using Environmentally Friendly Treatments to Eliminate Landfill Odors

Megan Greenwalt, Freelance writer

May 31, 2016

5 Min Read
Using Environmentally Friendly Treatments  to Eliminate Landfill Odors

San Jose, Calif., recently delayed presenting the findings of a study of odors from the Newby Island Landfill as part of a review of a plan to expand the facility by 100 feet.  Advanced Disposal and Republic Services are at odds over how to fix an odor issue at the Arbor Hills Landfill in Michigan. And following a flood of complaints from neighboring cities about an increased odor issue at the Capitol Landfill in Juneau, Alaska, the City and Borough of Juneau has identified the source and measures are being taken to reduce the odor issues.

These are some of the recent headlines regarding odor and dust management at landfills across the country. This is in addition to the potential for fines and class action lawsuits. To provide resolution, operators often seek both scientifically and legally defensible data to formulate proper odor control plans.

“Sites have some options for odor control treatment. Dust control treatment sites need to use one of our fan systems,” says Jesse Levin, president of NCM Odor Control, a manufacturer and servicer of neutralizer products and high pressure atomizing systems based in Brodheadsville, Pa. “For odor control you can treat directly. This is our preferred method … treat odors at the source. We can achieve this for a landfill by using our spray bar system. This unit allows sites to treat the bad loads as they come in or treat the working face before a site closes. Treating before a site closes as part of the daily cover encapsulates the odors during off hours. Some sites even take in bio-solids or sludge. This spray bar system can be used to directly apply odor control neutralizer to the odorous source.”

Dr. Laura Haupert, director of research and development for OMI Industries, a Long Grove, Ill.-based company that specializes in developing natural solutions to control industrial odors, says the best way to counter landfill odor problems is to seek out solutions that are both effective and safe for employers and the community.

“There are solutions that use natural ingredients to eliminate industrial smells without the need for harsh chemicals or masking fragrances. These solutions can be dispersed through oscillating fan systems, vaporization, atomization nozzles, and even sprayed on waste being transferred by trucks,” she says.

The most significant benefit of odor control for landfills is the ability to eliminate the problem in ways that are safe for everyone and to avoid any issues with neighboring residents.

“The benefits are tremendous," Hauper says. "The right odor management solutions can help counter any odor complaints from neighboring residents. Of course, the last thing that any landfill needs is bad publicity as a result of foul odor issues."

Neighbors are probably the biggest obstacle for landfill operators, according to Levin.

“People naturally like to complain. The lack of education in regard to identifying smells of some of the neighbors creates issues. Sometimes people just like to blame the landfill when other odor causing neighbors are nearby and can be the source,” he says. “We offer a range of studies headed by our senior air quality engineer that can aid a site in identifying particular odor sources, measuring the dilution of those odors and or gases and what effects they could or could not have on the surrounding community.”

Treating odors onsite and effectively managing dust allows landfills to be better neighbors.

“(You are) showing regulatory agencies and your neighbors you take odors seriously and your spending money to minimize a sites presence,” says Levin.

Compared to other industrial applications such as wastewater treatment and asphalt production, landfills are more challenging when it comes to fighting odors, says Haupert.

“For example landfills often encompass many acres and are constantly changing – with new areas being continually filled in with waste," she says. "As they also become higher in elevation over time, keeping foul odors from being carried off by often-erratic wind patterns becomes all the more difficult. We have also seen an expansion in residential and commercial real estate development where many landfills are now located in close proximity to homes and businesses. This can cause significant increases in odor complaints from neighbors. “

Other challenges of odor and dust control at a landfill are that the working face is always moving and state limitations, according to Levin.

“Some states like California are called dry states, meaning they do not allow sites to exceed a certain amount of water sprayed onto the working face. This limits our direct application options,” he says.

Gas operations at a landfill also pose an issue.

“If the gas collection program at a site is lacking it directly affects odors and results a company can get,” says Levin. “We work hand and hand with the landfills operational team to find out what is going on and to aid any way we can.”

NCM utilizes odor and dust treatment options that include using a site’s litter fence, turn-key portable systems – waterless or vapor, and a high pressure atomizing system designed to treat fugitive odor molecules before the leave the site, according to Levin.

The company has two types of systems. The first is a high pressure atomizing linear system. It is a water-based system that can span up to a mile plus with spray nozzles. “The neutralizer is blended via chemical injection pump into the water supply and then sprayed through our high pressure atomizing nozzles custom designed for this type of application," Levin says. "This unit can also be fully automated to run off a weather station and set up to run during the winter months without risk of freezing.”

The second system is a waterless vapor system that does not use water and minimal amount of odor control neutralizer. The key with this type of system is maintaining a strong enough CFM through each hole or orifice to ensure the neutralizer you are spraying gets into the atmosphere.

OMI utilizes its Ecosorb technology, which eliminates odors without the use of harsh or hazardous chemicals, expensive emission control systems or masking fragrances.

“A proprietary blend of plant extracts, Ecosorb is engineered to seek out and destroy organic and inorganic odors on a molecular level – safely and effectively neutralizing even the most persistent landfill odors,” says Haupert. “This allows any landfill to effectively combat an odor problem in ways that are safe for the environment, employees and neighboring communities.”

About the Author(s)

Megan Greenwalt

Freelance writer, Waste360

Megan Greenwalt is a freelance writer based in Youngstown, Ohio, covering collection & transfer and technology for Waste360. She also is the marketing and communications advisor for a property preservation company in Valley View, Ohio, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America. Prior to her current roles, Greenwalt served as the associate editor of Waste & Recycling News for three years and as features editor for a local newspaper in Warren, Ohio, for more than five years. Greenwalt is a 2002 graduate of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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