OEPA says no decision made on Pike County landfill

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Despite assertions made by Piketon City Councilman Dennis Foreman, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson said the state agency has not yet made up its mind on a draft permit for the Rumpke Pike Sanitation Landfill in Pike County.

OEPA’s Anthony Chenault said that permit is currently under review. He did state a public comment period ended Sept. 16.

“Ohio EPA staff will review, consider and respond to public comments as part of the final decision for the draft permit,” Chenault added.

In an email to the OEPA and shared with the Daily Times, Foreman blasted the idea of what he termed Rumpke’s expansion plans and stated OEPA officials already had made up their minds to approve the company’s request. Foreman complained a public meeting on the issue was little advertised and therefore little attended.

In that email to the OEPA, Foreman specifically asked if there was an appeal process in place to challenge what he assumes is the state’s almost certain approval. An OEPA official, not Chenault, did not answer that question in an email sent to Foreman and again shared with this newspaper.

Chenault said any decisions of the OEPA director are appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission. Appeals must be filed within 30 days after notice of the action, Chenault added.

As previously reported, Rumpke East Area Communications Manager Gayane Makaryan described her company as a family owned operation in business since 1932.

“We are committed to environmental compliance, exceptional customer service and being a good neighbor,” Makaryan wrote. “We understand the community has gone through a lot in the past, and we understand that our neighbors have questions about Rumpke or any organization doing business in their community. They rightfully want to know how their community is being impacted.”

As most are likely aware, ongoing construction of what proponents describe as an on-site waste disposal facility on the property of the long closed Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant continues to attract lots of opposition in Pike and Scioto counties. Foreman is among one of the more outspoken opponents of that facility.

In her comments, Makaryan specifically noted Rumpke does not now and will not in the future accept any radioactive or hazardous materials. He added the company in fact has no facilities dealing with hazardous wastes.

Although she did not refer specifically to any odor complaints regarding the Pike County fill, Makaryan said Rumpke recently installed a methane gas flare system at the fill and intends to install yet a second flare system. Methane is commonly released from any sanitation landfill. According to Foreman, the most common complaint regarding the Pike County fill is the presence of gas odors.

“The system upgrade is designed to reduce odors at the site,” Makaryan continued.

Makaryan insisted there are no immediate plans to increase the volume of trash or traffic reaching the Pike Sanitation Landfill. However, he added with anticipated future population growth in mind, it made sense to adjust the Pike County fill’s permits. Makaryan denied an assertion by Foreman any new permit will allow the company the option to accept trash from out of state or out of the country. He said Rumpke has, in fact, always had that option and further, that option was in place before the company took over the landfill.

Chenault did not say when OEPA will render a decision. The Times will continue to follow this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In a previous story on this issue, the Daily Times incorrectly referred to Rumpke spokesperson Gayane Makaryan using male pronouns. The spokesperson is female. The Times regrets this error.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.