OCTOBER 2011
                                        

California Waste handlers to reduce harmful odors

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed an agreement with Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies to eliminate potential noxious odors that could affect surrounding communities. Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies are waste handling, recycling and composting facilities located on the Cabazon Reservation, near Mecca, California.

The EPA Region 9’s web site has been updated to include the consent decree, work plan, and the Health and Safety Plan. It is available here. More information on EPA’s work in Mecca, Calif. is available here.

“This agreement includes binding commitments for the facilities to identify and eliminate the odors that have plagued Mecca,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our efforts are part of a collaboration with the Cabazon Tribe to ensure that the facilities operate in a way that protects human health. We are also coordinating our actions with the State of California to respond to the concerns of the local residents.”

The agreement supersedes EPA’s initial May 2011 order issued to address the immediate public health concerns. The new order fine tunes the initial order, and adds the threat of financial penalties if the facilities do not comply. Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies are required to:

  • Complete installation of an odor-control misting system
  • More thoroughly identify incoming wastes for potential odors
  • Measure and record the levels of potential odor-causing substances
  • Implement handling measures to control any additional odors if they occur
  • Only accept incoming soil and other materials consistent with the approved work plan

EPA previously prohibited Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies from accepting contaminated soils, biosolids and soy whey wastes for their strong potential to generate odors. Under EPA’s initial order, Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies were required to take multiple actions to mitigate odors, stabilize soil, and control particulate matter emissions (dust) at the facilities, including:

  • Reducing the height and size of existing storage piles
  • Increasing the frequency of water application (using spray trucks)
  • Hydroseeding untreated soil piles with a polymer coating and grass mix
  • Applying a polymer coating to treated soil storage piles
  • Covering compost piles containing soy whey solids with soil

The work plan approved by the agreement requires Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies to continue safely treating the soil that is already on-site until it is gone, and ensures new material does not cause harmful odors.