State environmental leaders explain $99K fine against Sussex landfill

State environmental leaders explain $99K fine against Sussex landfill

SUSSEX, VA (WWBT) - Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality is opening up about the $99,000 fine it just imposed on the owners of the landfill in Sussex County.

The company that operates the landfill, Atlantic Waste Disposal, said earlier this year that it was addressing the numerous concerns about a massive odor that travels for miles. The state feels progress is not being made fast enough.

"I love my deck. Love sitting out there, love relaxing there. You can't do it. You can't even cook a steak," neighbor Wilda Rolley said back in February.

Folks who live miles away from the Sussex landfill were outraged over the stench that travels to their homes. Many say it hasn't gotten much better.

"Really, really bad," Christina Marconi said.

"You can hardly go outside," Marguerite Bishop also added.

At the time, Atlantic Waste Disposal said it was making changes after heavy rain and winter delayed the company's efforts to get the situation under control earlier. This month, the state stepped in to say crews are not making changes fast enough and slapped on a $99,000 fine.

"With a landfill, it's something we take pretty seriously. It does need to be addressed," said Bill Hayden with the Department of Environmental Quality.

He says the state plans to periodically pay the landfill a visit.

"Physically look at what problems are there and make sure they're being fixed properly. We look at the landfill's records to make sure they're recording what's being done and what steps they've taken," he said.

Said company spokesperson Lisa Kardell:

"Atlantic Waste Disposal continues to make significant improvements to the landfill. The landfill is on schedule to meet all requirements from the Emergency Order by mid-July. We are also meeting the requirements outlined in the recent Consent Order from the violation in December 2015 to ensure we are in compliance with DEQ regulations. We will have completed a temporary cap on 30 acres by mid-July and have scheduled another 36 acres of temporary cap and 25 acres of clay cap by the end of 2016. We continue to add additional gas well to improve our gas collection system to minimize off-site odors."

Hayden says if the problem remains, there could be yet another penalty. The state could even take the landfill's owners to court.

"When you look at the kinds of violations that have occurred there, they've occurred over a long period of time, several months," Hayden added.

The state is in the process of developing some guidelines to ensure the landfill resolves these concerns in a reasonable time frame.

"Atlantic Waste Disposal is committed to being a good neighbor in the communities we operate," Kardell said in a statement.

There's a public comment period happening now. You can reach the Department of Environmental Quality by email if you have input.

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