Yesterday was a busy one for The Milpitas Smell, a topic my nostrils have forced me to grow passionate about.Since recent data has shown that almost 100% of the people in Milpitas have noses, I continue to be convinced that I’m not alone in this…In the morning, the City of Milpitas Engineeri
Republic Services and other facilities throughout California lobbied and killed AB 1975 (the odor taskforce bill). Opposition worked it hard this year and got facilities throughout the state to send letters and call their assembly members. Not enough votes to get the bill off the Assembly floor. It is very disappointing that other state assemblymen would go against a harmless bill that merely mandates the participation of odor nuisance offenders in a local task force. Kansen Chu’s staff will continue working with the air districts and local enforcement agency to see if something else can be done outside of legislation in the meantime.
Good news – Kansen Chu has introduced a new legislatve bill to formally combat odor problem in our area.
HERE IS HIS ANNOUNCMENT:
Dear Friends and Neighbor,
It is our mission to fight the environmental injustice and push for odor abatement in the South Bay. One important activity we do is to work with government agencies to enforce regulations. As experience has taught us, we need to pay close attention every step of the way.
In this update, we will share with you the latest about Newby’s composting operation, and why and how you should file complaints with government authorities.
Newby’s Static Pile Composting, Its Risks, and Our Requests
Newby’s composting operation has probably been the biggest offender to our air quality. As the result of a class action litigation, that operation has been ordered to be converted to the Covered Aerated Static Pile (CASP). Feel free to google this term, and you will be pleased.
However, things can still go wrong in many ways. With those gigantic piles of organic material sitting on a high open ground and prevailing wind blowing our way, one single leak can turn our beautiful city to smell worse than a cow town.
San Jose LEA, the local enforcement agency for CalRecycle, the governing body for solid waste operations, has been willfully ignoring the myriads of complaints we filed by phone and online. Recently, this agency has hired a new supervisor, and we took the opportunity to address our specific concerns. Our very own Ms L. has done the heavy lifting and written a compelling letter to both San Jose LEA and CalRecycle to demand specific conditions to be included in Newby’s CASP permit. Her letter is attached at the end of this message.
Everyone Can and Should Help
Every progress we make is because of your support. The government officials are willing to talk to us because the number of your complaints weighed in.
We ask you to raise your standards for our environmental well being. Try to report whenever and wherever you smell foul air.
For landfill odor, call Odor Hotline at (800) 334-6367
For composting odor, file the CalEPA online form. Make sure to select “Solid Waste” on the form.
It takes more than a town to change the way things are done. Only with a mounting evidence based on the complaint number can we ask for more measures from the authorities. We are also pushing for odorous gas meters installed at selected sites to monitor air quality from that perspective. We dream of a day when BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) will publish H2S readings in our area.
So, please keep reporting. Spread the words and get more people to call and file. Tell people we don’t have to live with this. Tell everyone we deserve better.
South Bay Eco Citizens
Subject: Public comment for SWIS# 43-AN-0017 permit (Newby Island CASP conversion
Hi Bryan and Bob (cc CalRecycle),
As the surrounding land-use continues to be urbanized, I hope LEA will work in tandem with CalRecycle and BAAQMD to bolster permit conditions and drive Newby Island towards effective odor abatement, rather than place the burden on impacted communities to rely on the judicial process. The 2016 class action settlement court order driving this CASP conversion is already the second court order for Newby Island compost operations. Please see to it that stronger permitting and enforcement processes are in place.
Kindly consider my inputs below for the above permit application:
Concern #1: Uncovered compost-related operations
Conversion to Covered Aerated Static Piles (CASP) alone may not adequately abate odor since green waste grinding operation, stockpile and material transfers to/from compost piles remain uncovered despite being confirmed sources of odor (per BAAQMD’s investigations). The proposed cover (wood chips) is not a permanent fixture and may be damaged by wind erosion or improper maintenance. Palo Alto Public Works had openly published the following conclusion in its decision to end composting operation within its city boundary: “While many technologies can control process odors, only a structure that covers the entire operation (like a building) can control odors that generate from moving the compost into the vessels or from process area to process area.” .
Concern #2: Risk of increased odor nuisance during CASP transition
Based on Republic Services West Contra Costa Landfill’s recent struggle with Covered Aerated Static Piles technology (including a cease-and-desist order from the LEA), I am concerned over any odor nuisance from unforeseen problems as the operator appears to still be learning and developing CASP BMPs. Additionally, the operator expects increased transfer of materials during the CASP transition. These transfers, if not properly managed, could increase odor nuisance.
Concern #3: Permit enforcement
While public nuisance condition has always been a condition in the compost permit, LEA has not demonstrated to the public that it is committed to enforce this condition. From 2014 to 2017, LEA has only issued 1 violation (9/15/2015) to Newby Island Compost operation despite BAAQMD’s recurring statements that the compost operation is a dominant odor source and continue to forward confirmed compost complaints to LEA. There is no transparency in the process for the public to track LEA’s responses to these confirmed compost complaints.
To address the above concerns, I strongly urge you to consider the inclusion of strict permit conditions to protect public welfare:
A. Decrease the maximum limit of compost throughput until CASP technology is proven to reduce odor by more than 90% (based on projections cited in the 2016 class-action settlement).
B. If odor nuisance continues, adoption of fully enclosed composting technology (eg. in-vessel) that has been proven in urban areas must be evaluated.
C. Require preventive measures based on learnings from West Contra Costa CASP implementation.
D. As wood-chip cover may be prone to wind erosion and poor maintenance, LEA should require the most effective cover/bio-filter material to control odor as well as influence applicants to install trees as wind and odor barrier.
E. Prominently include number of confirmed compost complaints forwarded by BAAQMD and corrective action taken in LEA’s monthly inspection reports, and commit to timely issuance of public nuisance violations.
Thank You again for the opportunity to comment on the permit revision.
Lawsuit by city says CalRecycle should look at odor from waste facilities such as Newby Island as part of permit approval.
Update: The 2017 Bay Area Clean Air Plan was adopted on Apr 19th, 2017 by BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Quality Management District). Below was our response to it.
I am writing on behalf of Milpitas REACH, a local grassroot movement, which has long been engaging BAAQMD to reduce air pollution from waste processing facilities near our communities. There has been over 30 violations issued by BAAQMD to area polluters within the last 2 years, one as recently as this week. We have been repeatedly told that Regulation 7 (odorous substance enforcement) will be improved through the new Clean Air Plan. We learned during January Board meeting that a draft for the clean air plan will be released.
Unfortunately, we had not been notified of its release and came to my attention today that Clean Air Plan public comment deadline was April 3rd.
Our group has not had the chance to review and provide inputs. We are disappointed that no open houses had been held is our area despite 7000+ odor complaints on record.
1. 2017 Plan Volume 2 — Stationary Source Sector, SS40:
Regulatory Context and Background:
“Seventy-three percent of those odor complaints came from a single community in the Bay Area, alleging odors from solid waste and other organic waste related facilities in the area. “Comment 1A: As a resident of the community mentioned, I request that the word “alleging” be revised to include the fact that hundreds of the alleged odors have been confirmed by air quality inspectors to waste processing facilities in the area which continues to impact surrounding communities.
Implementation Actions:“Evaluate methods of detection and monitoring practices of odorous compounds. “Comment 1B: Impacted residents strongly desire the implementation of active odor monitoring devices and system to replace or supplement the odor complaint process. I recommend that the above statement be strengthened to “evaluate and implement”.Comment 1C: The proposed actions failed to address deficiency in the current odor complaint process. Please consider improved processes such as deploy mobile or web app to file and track complaints including response time and inspector findings as well as eliminate the need for face to face confirmation if inspectors can adopt the use of mobile odor monitoring device.
“Evaluate the complaint threshold that triggers applicability of the regulation. “
Comment 1D: Given our communities long struggle with recurring public nuisance violations, I recommend that the above action be supplemented with evaluating violation threshold with strict timeline for corrective actions including notice of abatement.
“Amend regulatory requirements to ensure best management practices for the control of odorous emissions, such as the requirement of odor mitigation plans “
Comment 1E: Given that best management practices may not be adequate to meet state public nuisance code, actions should include amendment in Title V permits to ensure odor abatement can be proven before odor mitigation plan is adopted and permits are granted.
WA1: LandfillsImplementation Actions:The Air District will:Propose amendments to Rule 8-34 to increase stringency of control and fugitive leak standards, and improve consistency with the LMCM and federal rules.Comment 2A: As a resident in a community adjacent to Newby Island landfill which has had more than 8 recurring Reg 8-34 violations (landfill surface and well leaks), I welcome the proposed amendments. However, I would like to request that the most stringent rules and buffer zones are applied when site is in close proximity to human receptors. Toxicity of by-products of the gas collection systems must also be measured and regulated to eliminate health and safety impacts to on and off-site receptors.
Co-Benefits:Increased capture of landfill gases would likely result in less potential for odor complaints.
Comment 2B: Odor nuisance is governed by Reg 3. Is there any revision to Reg 3 such that any correlation of odor to landfill gas control can drive enforcement actions through mandatory reduction of emissions? Permits should not be issued for sites with recurring public nuisance violations.WA2: Composting & Anaerobic Digesters
Propose a rule to limit emissions from composting operations and anaerobic digesters, similar to San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Rule 4566 and South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1133.Comment 2C: As these facilities will continue to expand given state directive to divert waste from landfills, I would like to request that the most stringent rules and buffer zones are applied when site is in close proximity to human receptors. BAAQMD should consider latest studies and technologies beyond that currently adopted by SCAQMD or SJVAPCD. Permits should not be issued for sites with recurring public nuisance violations.WA3: Green Waste DiversionIssues/Impediments:Siting of composting facilities has generated controversy in the past over the potential for odors coming from static piles, but modern composting facilities that implement best-available technology and effective operating procedures can reduce the potential of odors reaching homes and businesses. Some new composting facilities use closed systems that can be located within urban areas without disturbing people nearby. Funding for additional compost facilities to handle more green waste could be needed to support implementation of these action items.Comment 2D: As a resident of a community that had been impacted by compost odor for decades, I would like to see BAAQMD play a more active role to deny permit or require operators to migrate to closed systems to mitigate recurring odor nuisance.WA4: Recycling and Waste ReductionIssues/Impediments:
No significant issues or impediments are anticipated due to the voluntary nature of this control measure.
Comment 2E: As a resident of a community that had been impacted by malodor and traffic emissions from recyclery aka materials recovery facilities at Newby Island Resource Recovery Park, the above statement failed to reflect the negative impact of sitting recyclery operations in urban centers. Please revise this section to reflect the odor and traffic impacts, along with appropriate evaluation and tighter regulation added to the implementation actions to protect adjacent communities.
update 01/20/2017: our appeals was rejected.
After San Jose Planning commission upheld the decision on Dec 7th for the Newby Island Landfill Expansion Permit, Milpitas REACH filed an appeal on Dec 12th. Here is our appeal: NewbyDec12thResidentAppeal.
San Jose Planning Commission voted 5-0 Wednesday to allow a nearly 100-foot vertical expansion to the Newby Island Landfill.
Unfortunately, the San Jose planning commission on Dec 7th voted to approve the Newby Island Landfill expansion. The Garbage dump will be piled up to an unprecedented 245 feet and will remain open until 2041. They erroneously cited they need more Landfill capacity when they have plenty in the county. They also stated that they didn’t want to ship their Garbage to other communities and needed the expansion, but apparently it is okay to ship San Jose’s garbage to Milpitas and Monterey. They also argued that the extra height won’t contribute to more odor, use your common sense about that point, more garbage more odor.
City of San Jose has been hypocritical in its public policies.
On one hand, it issued Green Vision goal to divert 100% of waste out of landfills by 2022, and had used that goal to build over 12 new recycling and composting facilities. San Jose Mayor further endorsed Measure AA to raise $500 million to restore the bay from landfill and toxic pollution.
Newby Island’s Area Manager Mike Caprio told the planning commission that its existing permit has capacity through 2023-2025. This is not even including the 20+ years of excess landfill capacity at San Jose’s other landfills that have 0 violations.
Yet, the planning commission chose to expand Newby Island, completely disregarding 23 unresolved regulatory violations, its city municipal code and zero waste goal. No wonder City of San Jose is persistently ranked as one of the worst-run big cities in the country.
Thanks to the volunteers for all the efforts that went into last night’s San Jose Planning commission meeting on the Newby Island Landfill. Volunteers were preparing speeches, organizing for the bus ride/carpool. Special thanks to the brave folks who brave the rainy weather to speak on behalf of the community. Thanks Milpitas councilmembers Garry Barbadillo and Marsha Grilli and Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran for also showing up.
We had presented to San Jose at the start of the appeal process about how 44 landfills in San Francisco Bay had closed upon reaching capacity and converted to parks. None ever exceeded 150-160 feet height. But San Jose isn’t interested in superior alternatives.
Look at the stats:
San Francisco County has 0 landfills, Marin County has 0 landfills, San Mateo County has 1 landfill. Yet – San Jose city alone has 4 landfills.
The underlying problem is San Jose gets tax revenue per ton disposed at landfills, hence it chose to harbor more landfill capacity than it needs.
Again thanks to everyone who fought hard against the Newby Landfill expansion for the past 2 years and waiting out 10 deferrals.
You can watch a recording of the meeting when it gets posted here, look for “Dec 7th Planning commission meeting”, http://sanjose.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=51&clip_id=9429 OR is prior link is broken try this link http://www.sanjoseca.gov/civiccentertv/.