- 1 How can I help?
- 2 What are the ongoing efforts to deal with the pollution issues caused by San Jose’s facilities?
- 3 Thinking of relocating. Just how bad is the odor issue?
- 4 Does the odor only affect Milpitas?
- 5 What are the sources of odor in Milpitas?
- 6 Can you tell me which neighborhoods in Milpitas are affected?
- 7 Is the City of Milpitas doing anything about odor in Milpitas?
- 8 I am a Milpitas resident, but I don’t smell it often. Why should I care about this?
- 9 San Jose has authority over the odor producing facilities?
- 10 What are the goals of your grassroots group?
- 11 Can I donate?
- 12 Who is the leader of your group?
- 13 How do we contact you?
- 14 Why has Republic’s Newby Island Landfill been allowed to operate for so long and still pollute the surrounding population?
- 15 Republic’s Newby Island Landfill claims they are not the source of odor in this area and points to the natural environment. Please explain.
- 16 Do you have data to support that the odor is coming from Newby Island Landfill & Recyclery?
- 17 Garbage rates are low because of proximity to the Newby Island Landfill?
- 18 Why do some people claim they don’t smell the odor?
- 19 What is 1,4 dioxane?
- 20 What does the CEQA stand for? What does the San Jose municipal code say? Why do we ask for enforcing the CEQA?
- 21 More Reasons to deny the Newby expansion?
- 22 Some facts about the Guadalupe Landfill?
- 23 More Guadalupe Landfill Facts?
- 24 Comparing Landfill odor complaints as compiled by BAAQMD
- 25 Does anyone have any suggestions for a scientific, real-time method for monitoring odors?
- 26 What is the South Bay Stakeholders Odor Group?
- 27 Milpitas didn’t renew the garbage disposal contract with Republic’s Newby Landfill, does this mean the landfill will close?
- 28 What legal steps have been taken to mitigate the odor?
- 29 The landfill is stinky, and it is next a wetland, in a densely populated area. Why did the government not shut it down?
- 30 How can the federal government help?
How can I help?
What are the ongoing efforts to deal with the pollution issues caused by San Jose’s facilities?
South Bay Eco Citizens (grassroots citizens group fighting the odor issue) is currently pushing for a few things:
Thinking of relocating. Just how bad is the odor issue?
When it comes to making a subjective call about just how bad the odor is and whether you will be bothered by it, you will need to determine that on your own. Everyone is different. Our suggestion is for you to stay in town for at least a full year covering multiple seasons and see if the odor effects you. The population of Milpitas is 80,000, so that many people call it home. We love our town and want to make it better. Every town has issues and ours is the odor. Milpitas is our home and we are fighting against big garbage and government to make it better by eliminating the man-made sources of odor.
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. See our odor map.
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
- NOT THE Bay (see below)
Republic Services (the company that owns the dump) claims that odor comes from the bay itself. This is not true and mainly use as a misdirection by Republic to distract away from the man made sources of odor. The data we have collected from BAAQMD has shown the bay not to be the issue. Also Republic wants to postpone a real solution by calling out for a new odor study. Anyone calling for an odor study is also repeating Republic Services corporate lines.
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. Visit our our map page.
(Click the image to enlarge it)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
Republic’s Newby Island Landfill claims they are not the source of odor in this area and points to the natural environment. Please explain.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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?
What does the CEQA stand for? What does the San Jose municipal code say? Why do we ask for enforcing the CEQA?
More Reasons to deny the Newby expansion?
Some facts about the Guadalupe Landfill?
The prevaling winds at Guadalupe is pointing away from the populated areas.
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.
More Guadalupe Landfill Facts?
4. Population density near Guadalupe is 10x lower than Newby Island. Source:http://www.
Comparing Landfill odor complaints as compiled by BAAQMD
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?
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.
What legal steps have been taken to mitigate the odor?
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.
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.