Source of mysterious smell pinpointed in eastern Henrico

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - New developments in the case of that mysterious smell wafting over some neighborhoods in eastern Henrico.

Neighbors in the Midview Farms subdivision say they wake up some mornings, and it smells like rotten eggs. All along, they've said the mountain of right outside their windows.

Eric Leabough bought a nice house in Midview Farms, and sometimes he won't have people over - because it's too embarrassing.

"Have you ever smelled natural gas when it's leaking? It's a pretty rotten smell," Leabough said.

For weeks he's been pleading with the Department of Environmental Quality to investigate. This week, the DEQ said the odor appears to be coming from The East End Landfill, the result of a mining operation for recyclable materials. Eric is hardly surprised.

"When you drive by the entrance and the smell almost makes you wreck your car, it's kind of hard to say it's another source," Leabough said.

The East End Landfill takes construction debris, like old drywall. When it decomposes, it makes hydrogen sulfide which produces the smell. So the DEQ asked for an odor management plan.

"Ultimately we want the responsibility to remain on them to fix the problem, and for them not to be able to say, 'Well, we did what you told us to do, so we're done'. They're not done until the odors go away, said Rick Weeks, Chief Deputy at the DEQ.

But the issue is not considered over. The DEQ says there are other smells in the neighborhood.

"Clearly we think that this covers what was described as a rotten egg smell. We've also had complaints about a sewage smell, and a garbage smell," Weeks said.

Air testing will continue...even as neighbors like Eric remain skeptical of the process. He says they're thinking about filing a civil lawsuit against the DEQ.

"To say that you're not representing our interest as a community, so therefore we're going to hold you accountable since you're not going to hold the landfill owners accountable," Leabough said.

The DEQ says the landfill is being cooperative, and the odor could be taken care of by the end of the week. The landfill also provided us with a statement.

Mathew P. Appelget, President of TEEL, said "We continue to look for ways to work with our neighbors, and the implementation of our Odor Management Plan and the continuing work of DEQ to identify other sources of the problem will help improve our neighborhood."

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