FAQ

Contents

How can I help?

The number one thing you can do is call the BAAQMD odor hotline every time you smell it, see the reporting page. Visit our about page to join us.  Subscribe to our email list 

What are the ongoing efforts to deal with the pollution issues caused by San Jose’s facilities?

Milpitas REACH is currently pushing for a few things:

1. BAAQMD to have the jurisdiction to be the lead agency for all air quality complaints, including compost.
2. BAAQMD to own the periodic odor and violation report on their website. This is done by their counterpart SCAQMD for Sunshine Canyon Landfill, and we need BAAQMD to do the same. It is their duty to provide the report to decision makers.
3. BAAQMD or other neutral agency to drive the Odor Stakeholders Group, not Republic.
4. Legislative changes to close gap on permitting jurisdiction and odor as a criteria, among other things.

Does the odor only affect Milpitas?

No. This odor issue affects the entire Silicon Valley however cities such as Milpitas, South  Fremont and North San Jose are most severe. Other areas maybe affected by this odor.  However, without an unbias regional odor study, we just do not know.  We only rely on data from BAAQMD. If you work or commute between 880 and 237, you will smell this odor.

What are the sources of odor in Milpitas?

According to the Milpitas Odor Control Action Plan, potential sources of odors in the Milpitas area include:

  • Newby Island Landfills & composting operations
  • ZWED Anaerobic organics digestion facility
  • Milpitas sewage pump station
  • San Jose Waste Water Treatment Plant
  • Zanker Landfills

Read more at our odor sources page.

Can you tell me which neighborhoods in Milpitas are affected?

Everyone has different tolerance/sensitivity to odor. Frequency and intensity of odor varies – but generally, the neighborhoods West of I-680 and North of CA-237 experience odor a couple days a month. Odor is transient based on wind patterns. Odor may linger for minutes to hours.  The closer you are to the Newby Island Landfill and the Sewage Treatment plant (along 880), the more you will be affected. See the map below.  It is our recommendation that you come out yourself and determine for yourself how sensitive you are to the odor issues.  Milpitas is a beautiful town and many people still choose to live here despite the odor issues.  We hope  to be able to eliminate the odor issues and make our town even better.

Is the City of Milpitas doing anything about odor in Milpitas?

Milpitas City started looking seriously into this problem starting in 2003. It has implemented an Odor Action Plan for over a decade. Some historical data and info about the action plan can be found here: http://www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov/_pdfs/council/2011/011811/item_08.pdf

The City of Milpitas is trying to do several things to help with the odor issue.  However, Milpitas has no jurisdiction on The Newby Island Landfill OR the San Jose Waste Water Treatment Plant.

City reports state since 2011, City of Milpitas has been engaged in litigation opposing the expansion of the Newby Island landfill. A suit based on environmental objections is currently pending before the local appellate court. However, at council direction Milpitas City Attorney’s Office conducted a nationwide search to find an attorney firm to advise on any other potential means by which to eliminate the offensive odors plaguing the community. Read more here.

I am a Milpitas resident, but I don’t smell it often. Why should I care about this?

There are many reasons why you should care. Here are three major ones:

  1. The landfill normally does not operate over weekends. If you do not work around town, chances are you do not have to breathe the fouls air that much. However, if you have children that go to school in town, and if they like to play outside during recess or PE classes, they will be affected. The sad truth is, most kids do not understand the air they breathe does not have to be that way, especially if no one explains it to them. Even worse, kids are especially vulnerable to the toxic gases coming from the landfill. They may have impact on our respiratory system and our neural system, more so on kids. As parents, we do not want to take chances.
  2. It is not right to have a landfill to stay in urban area such as ours. It is not right to have a landfill of that size to continue to operate next to wetland. We as concerned citizens should be involved to make the change.
  3. Newby Landfill has become a disgrace of the Silicon Valley. As we have come to know, Republic Services, the operator of the Newby Landfill, has not the least of social responsibility or any business ethics. It hired a renowned Ph.D. whose patented technique was widely used by EPA to conduct a study in which he seriously misrepresented data and concluded that the odor came from the Bay. More recently, after the City of Milpitas did not garbage contract to them, they went out to fool the public and did a political maneuver that will cost the Milpitas taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also sent misinformation to Almaden residents and stirred them up to support them. The citizens of the Silicon Valley are intelligent and full of integrity. We have an obligation to stop such an enterprise from manipulating the media and running local politics. We hope you join our effort. Sign up with your email address so we can keep you updated. Only when we come together can we clean our air and make the Silicon Valley a proud place to live or work in or visit.

San Jose has authority over the odor producing facilities?

It is important to clarify that the “Milpitas Odor” is caused by odor sources located in San Jose.  The City of Milpitas has no control over the odor generators such as Newby Island Landfill, ZWED (organic digester facility), San Jose/Santa Clara Waste Water Facility (sewage plant), Zanker Landfill, and and the SF Bay Restoration project.  All these facilities are located outside Milpitas and in San Jose.  Newby Island Landfill has a Milpitas address because the access roads are in Milpitas, but it is a San Jose facility.

When talking to others not familiar with the pollution issues, refer to odor sources collectively as the San Jose Odor Area. This will reinforce the concept that the odors are produced by San Jose and not under Milpitas’ control.

Map of Odor
Milpitas Odor Map

What are the goals of your grassroots group?

Overall Goal: Study, Identify, and Stop all man-made sources of odor affecting the Southbay region. Make sure that all Southbay residents have access to clean air and can enjoy their surroundings. Eliminate the public nuisance.

Steps:
1. Study the odor situation in this region to identify the sources of odor.
2. Reach out to all odor producers and make sure they are mitigating the odors that they generate.
3. Make sure all regulatory agencies are doing their job to monitor/control the odor situation.
4. Make sure the odor producers are held accountable.
Visit our about page to join us.

Can I donate?

Yes, use the donate button below. 

Who is the leader of your group?

Again, we don’t have a single leader. There are  multiple coordinators maybe 4 helping to organize things. If you reach out to us, we will respond in a timely manner.

How do we contact you?

Please go start with the about page.

Why has Republic’s Newby Island Landfill been allowed to operate for so long and still pollute the surrounding population?

Few residents made an effort to fix this problem. Do you know that prior to the 9 public nuisance violations in 2015, the last public nuisance violation recorded against Newby was as far back as 2003? If residents didn’t make an effort to file complaints, it’s no surprise that decision makers presumed we had no problem and kept supporting Newby’s growth.
There is a strong inter-dependency that allowed Newby to operate this long. Back in the 1980s, a lot of cities were worried about running out of landfill capacity. Instead of planning for closure, Newby was granted a major expansion to grow by several hundred acres and many cities including Milpitas eagerly signed 20-40 yrs long term disposal contracts.
Luckily, with more state regulations pushing to reduce waste to landfills, cities are finally forced to do more recycling and reduce its dependency on landfills. Hopefully, with reduced demands, excess supply, and the undeniable fact that Newby is a public nuisance, we can convince SJ planning commission to forego the $10M+ annual tax revenue from Newby and reject the landfill height expansion or at the very least, honor the 2025 closure date as promised when the expansion was proposed and approved by City Council.

Republic’s Newby Island Landfill claims they are not the source of odor in this area and points to the natural environment. Please explain.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has been investigating Milpitas odor complaints for decades. Their 2013-2015 records showed 90% of confirmed complaints are from Newby Island (Composting, Recyclery and Landfill). ZWED (anaerobic digester) and WPCP (aka Sewage Plant) accounts for the remaining 10%. No bay odor were confirmed in this area. Yes – BAAQMD investigates natural odor sources too – it has confirmed bay odor in Dumbarton Bridge area and a lake in Almaden San Jose.
This is also a case of Republic (the owner of Newby Island Landfill) manipulating the data to fit their propaganda.  This is why the odor study needs to be independent and not controlled by one company.  The smelliest parts of the Newby operations which is the active landfill, the compost, and the recyclery was purposely omitted from the study. The study here.

A summary of points is listed below:

1. Republic claims the bay is the #1 regional odor source

Republic paid and used this report to substantiate their claim.

http://www.scefiling.org/filingdocs/22058/76609/188000e_CardxandxSchmidtxReports.pdf

If you read the report, you will find many gaps:
A. Newby Island Resource Recovery Park odor measurements were collected from16 inactive landfill surface only (i.e. covered & inactive)

B. No measurements were collected from active landfill, composting or recyclery areas

San Jose’s WPCP TPAC regional odor study and Milpitas City Odor Consultant’s report had pinpointed active operations as main odor sources.

C. WPCP odor measurements were taken from active surfaces

D. The conclusion that Bay is #1 source was based on un-normalized total emission, comparing different area sizes, where the Bay is 60x larger than the size of inactive landfill

  • 73,159,966m2 of natural sources
  • 1,211,000m2 of inactive landfill area
  • 1,644,030m2 of active surface in WPCP

E. Their own report showed odor breakthrough in one of the inactive landfill cells, with normalized odor flux of 331.1 DT/min-m2, which 10X higher than maximum odor flux from the bay (33.50 DT/min-m2)

This report would only be true if and when Newby cease all active operations.

Ling’s summary of her findings sent to the planning commission was on on page 631 of this doc: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/39918

(the following from Niu)
In Republic’s odor study, the total odor emission from nature (bay water) is measured to be about 100x higher than newby odor emission. Based on this data, republic claim nature source is responsible for milpitas’s stink. While the data itself is questionable, it is fundamentally wrong to draw that conclusion based on this data. Here is why.
Look at the map below. The black lines enclose the bay water republic used for their odor study, which is a vast area and the size is about 70 km^2. Assume now I am standing in Dixon landing and smelling strong odor, the red arrows represent the proper wind directions for me to smell ALL the odor sources in bay water simultaneously. How would that be possible? If I can not smell all the odor sources at the same time, what is point to compare total odor emission from bay water to newby odor emission? From this perspective, the odor emission per area is a more useful figure of merit to compare, because it provides a measure of point-to-point odor molecular transfer with wind, and it works better with the fact that we are experiencing odor in a spike fashion depending on wind direction. In the other hand, the odor emission from bay water would contribute to the background odor in milpitas, which is currently not an issue.
Second, distance between odor source and our nose is a factor. (I was trying to make this point during the meeting with republic, but probably didn’t make it very clear.) I would estimate the effective transfer coefficient is roughly inversely proportional to the square of distance. Apparently, republic’s study didn’t take distance as a factor.
In summary, it is fundamentally wrong to use total odor emission data to determine Milpitas’s major odor source. Otherwise, Iet’s just blame China, because I am sure China with the size of 9.6 million km^2 will emit much more odor than bay water.

 

Marshes Odor Diagram
Marshes Odor Diagram

The purpose of the odor study that serves the community’s complaints should be to locate the odor source. If odor can be measured in numbers, more odor associate with bigger value, then we would be look for an extreme value.

Newby Island truthfully collected these raw data, from which the extreme value can be easily pinpointed to location #73, which is at the northwest corner on the map. Its peak odor index value is 8,600, as compared to no more than 200 at other sampling points. (see the attached excerpt from the Card/Schmidt reports).
That is to say, this peak odor is a Mount Everest at that corner of the Bay, and it falls down, capable of sweeping through the entire valley with the wind. That explains why sometimes Apple employees smell that odor in Cupertino.
Republic Services excludes this data point in their study. This is a classical case of abusive data analysis, with questionable ethics involved.
To fully explain the Card/Schmidt report and its problems would require much in depth discussions.  However, here are some of the issues with their report:
  1.     Schmidt participated in drafting the 1986 USEPA flux chamber user guide.  Section 3.5.4 sets forth a methodology for calculating the emission rate for a total area source through random sampling.  See Eklund, 2012.  In Card/Schmidt’s Newby Island landfill study, they did not comply with this sampling plan.  Their decision to use 16 samples was based upon time constraints.  The locations they selected were not random as recommended by the 1986 USEPA user guide.  Instead, they created their own method for selecting the locations to take samples.  This new method has never be used or reviewed by anyone else in the scientific community.
  2.     The limited number of samples does not take into account the large spatial and temporal variability in landfill gas flux.   The inactive surface of the Newby Island landfill is not a homogeneous surface.  Newby Island landfill uses approximately 12 different types of intermediate cover.  Different types of cover material impact the flux of landfill case.  Card/Schmidt did not take into account (or even know) this important fact.   This is important because research has established that most landfill gas that is emitted through the surface occurs at a limited number of hotspots.  One paper found that “50% of emissions [are] released at 5% of the landfill surface.”   See Ooonk, April 2010, p. 39.  In fact, Schmidt wrote in Chapter 3 of the book entitled Sampling and Analysis of Airborne Pollutants (edited by Eric Winegar and Lawrence Keith) that “[s]urface coverings greatly affect emissions rates, and these must be considered when designing the testing approach.” Page 50.
  3.     Card/Schmidt limited to study to a single visit.  Changes in the weather (seasonal changes) impact the emission of landfill gas.   Ooonk, April 2010, p. 39.
  4.     The blank sample results indicate that the samples were either contaminated or the air was impacted by the Tedlar bags. Zarra, 2012, Koziel, 2012.

You can read even about the card-schmidt study at this post.

Do you have data to support that the odor is coming from Newby Island Landfill & Recyclery?

All the data we collected from BAAQMD points a majority of the odor complaints to the Newby Island Landfill & Recyclery.  Take a look at the following documents.
1.  BAAQMD confirmed sources since 2013:
2.  BAAQMD alledged sources in 2015:
BAAQMD_Landfills_2014-2016

Garbage rates are low because of proximity to the Newby Island Landfill?

Dave C. did a study of waste collection rates of 24 cities in the Bay Area, from San Jose to San Francisco, Milpitas to Richmond and there was no correlation to waste collection rates and the distance to the landfill.  See the article below.

Letters: Alternatives to Newby Island exist – San Jose Mercury News.

garbage-price-comparison

Why do some people claim they don’t smell the odor?

The human population has a wide range of olfactory capability, just like our sense of sight and sense of touch. Some people are more sensitive to inputs and others are not. I’ve had friends who have zero sense of smell. The odor problem is quite subjective based on the individual.

There is what scientists call odor fatigue, where people simply get used to the smell and it stops bothering them. And some of our children who are born and raised in Milpitas never knew any different. They were born into this world thinking that the smell was normal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_fatigue

From the wiki page above:

Olfactory fatigue, also known as odor fatigue or olfactory adaptation, is the temporary, normal inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to that airborne compound. For example, when entering a restaurant initially the odor of food is often perceived as being very strong, but after time the awareness of the odor normally fades to the point where the smell is not perceptible or is much weaker. After leaving the area of high odor, the sensitivity is restored with time. Perfume counters will often have containers of coffee beans which tend to “reset” olfaction. Anosmia is the permanent loss of the sense of smell, and is different from olfactory fatigue.

Also depending on wind direction and your proximity to the odor producers, you might smell different things.  The odor will shift and skip neighborhoods and houses.

What is 1,4 dioxane?

Dioxane has affected groundwater supplies in several areas. Dioxane at the level of 1 μg/L has been detected in many locations in the US.[3] In the State of New Hampshire alone in 2010 it had been found at 67 sites, ranging in concentration from 2 ppb to over 11,000 ppb. Thirty of these sites are solid waste landfills, most of which have been closed for years. It also has low toxicity to aquatic life and can be biodegraded via a number of pathways.[17] The problems are exacerbated since dioxane is highly soluble in water, does not readily bind to soils, and readily leaches to groundwater. It is also resistant to naturally occurring biodegradation processes. Due to these properties, a dioxane plume is often much larger (and further downgradient) than the associated solvent plume.
Cancer Risk:
In three epidemiologic studies on workers exposed to 1,4-dioxane, the observed number of cancer cases did not differ from the expected cancer deaths. (7)
A study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of rats and mice exposed to 1,4-dioxane in their drinking water reported increased incidences of liver carcinomas and adenomas and nasal cavity squamous cell carcinomas. (9)
Liver carcinomas and gallbladder carcinomas were observed in mice and guinea pigs, respectively. (7)
No treatment-related lesions resulted from exposure to 1,4-dioxane vapor in rats. (7)
EPA has classified 1,4-dioxane as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen. (7)
We highlighted elevated levels of 1,4-Dioxane, above drinking water safety threshold at Zanker landfill, and was concerned about Newby site since it is a far larger operation compared to Zanker. Water Board assured us that Bay waters is too saline, hence not a drinking water source – past, present or future.
Upon residents’ request, the water board collected new samples from 8 wells but did not find any violations or areas of concerns at Newby.

What does the CEQA stand for? What does the San Jose municipal code say? Why do we ask for enforcing the CEQA?

The CEQA stands for the California Environmental Quality Act.
1) CEQA says no project can be approved if it causes significant environmental impact
2) San Jose municipal code says even though the environmental impact is insignificant to CEQA, as long as it causes some environmental impact, the project can’t be approved.
The following is paragraphs from San Jose Ordinance 26248, 26995, 29484
20.100.940-findings
A. the director, the planning commission on appeal or the city council as appropriate, may issue a planned development only if all of the following findings are made:
…..
4. The environmental impacts of the project, including, but not limited to noise, vibration, dust, drainage, erosion, storm water runoff, and odor which, even if insignificant for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will not have an unacceptable negative effect on adjacent property or properties.

More Reasons to deny the Newby expansion?

1). No need to expand.
The landfill operator’s executive said Newby has 10 years more remaining capacity
2). Excellent alternatives in San Jose which are Kirby Canyon and Guadalupe landfill 
A) the two landfills have total of 22 million cubic yards remaining capacity
B) the two landfills are in San Jose, so the revenue from landfill business won’t go away
C) the two landfills are in remote areas, not like Newby located in the heart of Silicon Valley
D) the two landfills’s odor won’t affect residents since residents are not downwind.
E) the two landfills won’t create extra transportation cost since they are local
3). The Newby expansion is against CEQA guideline and San Jose municipal code.
A) CEQA says no project can be approved if it causes significant environmental impact
B) San Jose municipal code says even though the environmental impact is insignificant to CEQA, as long as it causes some environmental impact, the project can’t be approved.
We all know  that Newby has received 5+ public nuisance tickets from government organization BAAQMD, a clear public nuisance, therefore Newby does cause significant environmental impact! So, the expansion can’t be granted if San Jose city government enforces the CEQA or its own municipal code.
4) Landfills cause water, air, and soil pollutions. 1,4 dioxane, the cancerous substance has been found in the Zanker landfill groundwater with 99x higher than state notification level. Around half of Silicon Valley residents drinking water source is from groundwater!  Newby landfill shares the same groundwater body, so we suspect the water is contaminated. We believe the government has the duty to protect public health and safety. Denying the permit is to prevent the damage to public health.

Some facts about the Guadalupe Landfill?

The prevaling winds at Guadalupe is pointing away from the populated areas.

Guadalupe-Landfill-Winds
Guadalupe-Landfill-Winds

See http://app.emaze.com/@ALOIRTFL/newby-fact-sheet#10. Also their incident of odor complaints to BAAQMD is only a handful compared to the thousands Milpitas has received. Total amount of waste disposed at Guadalupe has been steadily declining from 300k tons in year 2000 to under 200k tons today. Milpitas waste to be disposed at Guadalupe is projected to be 50k tons per year and will decrease due to diversion. So cumulative impact to Guadalupe will be below its historical trends. There is no landfill expansion proposed at Guadalupe. Also be aware that Newby Island Landfill (the local dump by Milpitas which is a San Jose facility) didn’t even participate in the bidding for a contract with the City of Milpitas.

Newby Island is still getting a large majority of the waste being produced by San Jose and many other cities, in 2015 alone, it received over 560,000 tons of waste for disposal. The City of San Jose is dumping their trash/sewage at the footsteps of its Milpitas neighbors and failing to do anything about the complains of odor from its various facilities.

Waste Management Odor Stats
Waste Management Odor Stats

More Guadalupe Landfill Facts?

1. Only 8% of San Jose’s waste goes to Guadalupe today. 90% of San Jose’s waste is currently trucked to Milpitas, Monterey and Hollister.
2. There is no landfill expansion planned for Guadalupe Landfill. The existing permit was from many decades ago.
3. Guadalupe Landfill has 11 million cubic yard of excess capacity or 40+ years of remaining capacity.
Its annual disposal intake has dropped from 300k tons/year (year 2000) to under 200k tons/year (2014) due to diversion.
Milpitas’ contract is for 50k tons/year and projected to decline due to diversion. So, impacts to Almaden will not be any worse than their living condition in year 2010.
Milpitas’ contract will help to reduce the excess capacity. Without new waste stream, Guadalupe closure date will continue to get pushed out beyond 2056.

4. Population density near Guadalupe is 10x lower than Newby Island.  Source:http://www.energyjustice.net/justice/index.php Source: https://www.freemaptools.com/find-population.htm Population density maps here.

5. Guadalupe’s prevailing wind pattern is blowing towards the open space to the Southeast, not residential areas to the North.
Newby’s prevailing wind pattern is blowing directly to residential, commercial, office, retail. Guadalupe has 0 public nuisance violations. Newby Island has 10 public nuisance violations.
More facts:
WM fact sheet [This was published by WM]

Comparing Landfill odor complaints as compiled by BAAQMD

Here’s the chart.
BAAQMD_Landfills_2014-2016

Does anyone have any suggestions for a scientific, real-time method for monitoring odors?

This has been raised many times. BAAQMD has jurisdiction over odor enforcement. While the technology exists, they have found it unsuitable for an area where multiple odor sources are closely located as data from sensors would be convoluted. Also, BAAQMD has claimed that this technology is not compliant for enforcement. While data can be collected as guidance, BAAQMD cannot issue any violations based on the data. The face to face confirmation process and tracing down odor source is the only proven method to hold up in court. Which is why BAAQMD continues to encourage residents to call in to report odor.

What is the South Bay Stakeholders Odor Group?

The South Bay Stakeholders Odor Group formed in 2015 is the forum in which regulatory agencies, decision makers (city staff and elected officials), odor producing facilities and resident representatives currently convene on a quarterly basis to address the odor issue.
We do not know if this group will be able to reduce the odor in this region yet as they have just started. This maybe a PR move by Republic Services and the other odor generators. Having the Foxes guarding the henhouse doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Members includes Republic Services, ZWED, Water Treatment Plant, City of San Jose/Milpitas/Fremont. LEA (Local Enforcement Agency), BAAQMD, Water Board, California Coastal Conservancy, and South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

Milpitas didn’t renew the garbage disposal contract with Republic’s Newby Landfill, does this mean the landfill will close?

No. The Landfill will remain open. The smelly Newby Island Landfill is a San Jose facility and under San Jose’s jurisdiction. Although Milpitas won’t be dumping its Garbage at Newby, other cities will still be using the facility, so it will remain open until it reaches capacity. If the expansion permit goes through, the landfill will be open for a very very long time.

Republic’s long term disposal contract with City of San Jose ends in 2020, Cupertino in 2023, Santa Clara in 2024. I believe Los Altos Hills contract ends before 2023. If we want a shot to keep the closure date in 2025 (as originally promised when the expansion was proposed in 2007 and approved in 2012), we need to make sure no new long term contracts are ever granted.
Jerry Brown signed AB341 to mandate 75% diversion by year 2020 (http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/75percent/). Where as City of San Jose adopted a more aggressive goal to achieve 100% diversion (zero waste) by 2022. Since the state law lags city level goals, we can’t use existing state laws to force landfill closure. There are recent reports that San Jose’s recycling rate has been dropping. So there’s no telling if it can really achieve it’s 2022 target.
Stopping Milpitas’s contract renewal is the first step.

What legal steps have been taken to mitigate the odor?

Briefly, Milpitas City has contracted 3 different legal counsels to address the landfill expansion issues, and had spent over $300k from city budget on it.
Filed a suit against City of San Jose for critical errors in the landfill expansion environmental impact report in 2012. Lost, appealed in 2014, and lost a 2nd time. Case is no longer relevant since we achieved what the lawsuit had sought for, which is an independent odor study.
Replaced Jarvis Fay in the appeal of landfill expansion Planned Development Zoning permit decision made by San Jose Planning Director in 2014. Also helped with filing intervention to release the city from class action lawsuit filed by 2 Milpitas residents against Republic Services. This firm is ready to file an appeal to the next level if the first appeal is denied at the upcoming Aug 24 2016 SJ Planning Commission Hearing.
Appealed landfill expansion Solid Waste Facility Permit decision made by San Jose LEA and state agency CalRecycle in 2015 – Milpitas lost the appeal at both city and state level.
On residents’ front, http://www.ldclassaction.com solicited several residents and filed a class action lawsuit against Republic Services in 2012. Class certification was denied in 2015, but both parties eventually agreed to a settlement. The final settlement approval is pending. Many of us are unhappy with the settlement and had pleaded with the judge to strengthen the terms. There is no upfront retainer cost, but the firm is taking $650k payout from the settlement.
We have also started seeking legal counsel to help residents in several items:
1. Appeal the class action settlement ($5k – $10k initial cost – max $50k). Expected outcome is to delay the settlement by 2 years to improve odor mitigation terms. No chance of landfill closure.
2. File new class action lawsuit seeking landfill closure – one volunteer with law degree took this task to find a firm (no news yet). Fremont group leader had spoken to an environmental law firm about it, but concluded it is extremely difficult to certify another class, given that the 2012 class action lawsuit had failed class certification before.
3. Appeal/challenge expansion permits – I have contacted an environmental law firm used by many non profit and public agencies within the Bay Area,
http://www.lozeaudrury.com. They’re interest, but I’ve got no time to follow through.

The landfill is stinky, and it is next a wetland, in a densely populated area. Why did the government not shut it down?

This is a good question. We are sure that many people have the same question. We are also puzzled.

We would like to share with you a case study from a Pennsylvania landfill where complaints come from downwind residents in neighboring state, New Jersey. Their situation is very similar to Newby/Milpitas. The difference is: a single notice of odor nuisance violation in Oct 2014 was enough to get the ball rolling towards full closure in 2017. See news burb below.

http://waste360.com/closure/pennsylvania-orders-waste-management-close-tullytown-landfill-2017

Cosmo Servidio, DEP Southeast regional director, says the public concerns about ongoing odor, noise and visual nuisances “were a significant factor in the decision to direct the landfill to close.”

California has known to be one of the most environmentally minded states. The Bay Area is probably the greenest metropolitan area in the country. The Newby landfill is our big disgrace.

Concerned citizens have gone to Sacramento and San Jose to persuade government agencies and politicians to not issue permit or pass propositions to regulate the landfill more. We have not been successful. However, as more and more of us come together and work on this movement, we have made progress. The City of San Jose has been  delaying the final decision of the expansion permit.

It is clear that only when united we can influence the decision makers. Please join our announce-only email list, so we can be in touch when we need to act together.

How can the federal government help?

Please be reminded that this country is governed based on federalism and separation of powers between federal, state, local government and its respective executive, judicial and legislative branches. They can’t step over one another. Jurisdiction and constituency are not one and the same thing.
Congressman Honda is our federal-legislative representative, while Newby Island Landfill expansion is wholly under the decision making power of San Jose City Council (i.e. local-representative). SJ City Council unanimously approved Newby Island expansion project in 2012 (Environmental Impact Report and Rezoning).
Our state and federal legislative representatives do not have the jurisdiction to overturn San Jose City Council’s decision or change its municipal code. This is why Milpitas City spent our tax $$$$ to challenge City of SJ’s decision through local judicial system, but repeatedly lost the case. Even if we can get President Obama’s support, he does not have the jurisdiction to overturn SJ or the court decision. So, save your anguish. Understand the division of powers and what tangible actions can be taken by your elected representatives. There’s no use in asking Milpitas City Council or Congressman Honda to shutdown the landfill or stop the expansion when neither one has that jurisdiction.
The one thing holding back Newby Island expansion now is San Jose PD permit issuance. Collectively, we succeeded in stalling the permit by proving that Newby Island is a public nuisance and cannot be permitted under City of San Jose Municipal Code. When a few of us met with Congressman Honda’s staff several months back, his staff noted the following actions are within Honda’s means:
1. Follow up on US Fish and Wildlife participation in SBOSG
2. Escalate our concerns to BAAQMD, CalRecycle, CalEPA, US EPA  ===> AUGUST 5th 2016 meeting
3. Escalate our concerns to SJ Major Liccardo and CA Governor Brown
4. Federal legislative support – look into tightening regulations for odor nuisance and landfill operations
5. Federal funding for environmental protection
Regardless of your political preferences, I hope you recognizes the golden opportunity to get our concerns heard by CalRecycle and EPA this August 5th 2016. Make sure we show up in volume to ensure our governmental agencies take necessary actions to protect our environment, public health and safety.

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This site contains information on odor issues in Milpitas.