Meeting in Perinton tonight will address foul landfill odors

Jan 16, 2018

It's expected to be a packed house tonight in Perinton as angry residents demand solutions to a stinking problem.

Since late last summer, they have been overwhelmed by garbage and sulfur odors from the High Acres landfill.

Gary McNeil and his family live less than two miles away from the facility. He says an obnoxious, rotten egg aroma is in the air often enough to affect their quality of life.

"You can't go outside a lot of the times; your kids can't go sledding, your kids are affected at school, you smell it in your house. It does make you question whether this is the right place to stay and raise your family."                    

McNeil grew up in Perinton and said the landfill has never been a problem until the last several years. He said residents who live nearby expect to smell garbage a few times a year, but the most recent malodorous experience is different. He belongs to a Facebook group called Fresh Air for the East Side that was set up to organize community response to the issue. More than 2,200 people have joined since it was established in October.

Town supervisor Michael Barker says Waste Management, the company that operates the landfill, has been working in good faith to eliminate the obnoxious smells, but so far has not succeeded.

"My patience is very thin with them but I do think they have sensed the urgency. The biggest thing is safety and the fact that the DEC monitors it 24/7, we are comfortable that it's safe. But this odor is a nuisance and it's not right for the residents there to have to live with that."

Waste Management's contract with the town of Perinton will expire in December 2018 and Barker said when it's renegotiated, it will include stronger language about managing unpleasant odors. 

McNeil said he was happy to hear that Barker is concerned about the problem. He said he and other residents didn’t feel like they were being heard last fall when they first started complaining to the town and to Waste Management.

"It really took the community to organize and to get louder, unfortunately, before we got any sort of meaningful response from Waste Management."

Tonight's meeting starts at 7:30 at the Perinton Community Center. The conservation board, which regulates the landfill, will get an update from Waste Management on its latest plans to mitigate the odor problem.  The conservation board will then present its recommendations to the full town board.  Barker said he expects those recommendations to be presented at the next town board meeting on January 24.

Waste Management said in a written statement that it has identified the cause of the odors and engineers and contractors are working to address them.  The statement said the company has enlisted the services of a health professional to develop a testing program to demonstrate that while they are a nuisance, the odors have no adverse health impacts.