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Landfill Odor Attracts Attention Of DEP

Posted in: Top Stories, Bourne News
Dec 5, 2008 - 12:06:18 PM
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Work on the installation of a new liner at the Bourne landfill, shown here in a picture taken Wednesday, has been named as the primary cause of the unpleasant smell emanating from the site last weekend. The smell reached the landfill’s boundaries after a back-up blower went off-line as part of what one town official called a project plagued by Murphy’s Law: everything that could go wrong, did. The project, impacted by rain at just the wrong times, was planned for colder winter weather, something that would have dampened the inevitable smells, helping to keep them from reaching beyond the confines of the site. DON PARKINSON/ENTERPRISE
BOURNE- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is expected to issue an enforcement order in the wake of the odor emanating from the Bourne landfill last weekend. Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said discussion of the landfill’s response to recent problems will be on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen.
The DEP has been working cooperatively with town landfill officials for the past weeks as that department attempts to control odors while a new liner is being installed, Mr. Guerino said.
However, he said, problems have dogged the project.
Just before Thanksgiving, the contractor that was excavating in the course of installing a new liner in one cell of the landfill exposed odiferous trash to the air. At the same time, Mr. Guerino said, the landfill’s main blower, used to control the escape of odor from the premises, was out being repaired.
On Saturday, the back-up blower tripped a circuit at a time when no one was onsite to correct the problem.
The result was a nasty smell that prompted numerous calls, including one on Sunday morning when firefighters were called to a home on Clay Pond Road after the resident called the fire department to report a strong smell of natural gas. According to the fire department log, firefighters informed the resident that the smell was actually coming from the landfill.
Mr. Guerino said that the town quickly began work to install a monitoring system for the blowers. That system is similar to the one that automatically informs Sewer Inspector George Tribou if a sewage pump station goes off-line.
That will ensure that the landfill blower system will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The landfill is a complex operation that includes biological mitigation of odors and other cutting-edge technology; this time, it was simply a hole in the ground combined with the failure of some low-tech equipment that caused the problem.
Mr. Guerino said yesterday that the town has been doing everything it can to keep odors under control, but rainy weather, among other factors, has made the liner operation take far longer than anticipated to complete, while warm weather has exacerbated the smell coming from the layers of trash that are exposed as part of the project.
Work on the installation is expected to continue over the next couple of weeks, Mr. Guerino said.