One complaint from the City of Trenton was all it took to increase inspections at the Riverview Land Preserve, according to Patrick Cullen, the acting director of the Land Resource Management Division of the Wayne County Department of Public Services.
Cullen said that a letter from City Administrator Jim Wagner requesting assistance prompted him to increase inspections from once per week to three times per week.
He added that during the inspections a Wayne County DPS employee is expected to go to 18 different preapproved plots on a map of the Trenton-Riverview area to measure the intensity of the odor from the landfill.
Cullen said Wagner's letter took him by surprise.
"I thought the City of Riverview was aware of the issues and had been trying to reduce the odor," Cullen said. "When we did hear about them, we were concerned."
Riverview Mayor Tim Durand said that “odors have been reduced significantly, almost to the point of nonexistence.”
“We’ve spent several hundred thousand dollars correcting the problem,” Durand said.
The cause of the recent increase in odor is a result of an abundance of methane gas created by rotting garbage from cities such as Riverview and Trenton.
Significant work has been done to reduce the increase in gas, including digging additional wells that house gas, and gas has been burned off, according to Durand.
Durand said he goes out almost everyday to test the air and has found the odor to be all but gone.
“To me the smell is almost nonexistent,” Durand said.
Trenton resident Trudy Mason Reno is one of several residents who have come forward about the smell.
Reno said she could smell the landfill as recent as last Saturday. She added the odor has made her nauseous and caused her young son to vomit.
"It's really bad," Reno said. "It would wake me out of a dead sleep."
Cullen said he has not received any feedback from inspectors regarding significant offsite odor.
He added that ordinances restricting odors can often be difficult to enforce.
Most of the laws around odors are nuisance-based. Landfills shall not result in unreasonable offsite deterioration of air quality, cause unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or cause injurious effects to human health safety or welfare, according to Cullen.
Cullen said nuisance is a broad term and difficult to quantify. He added he is not aware of any health risks related to landfill odors.
“It’s not an easy thing to measure,” Cullen said. “One of the challenges is that there is no universally accepted standard.”
Both Durand and Cullen encourage residents to notify them when they experience odors.
Durand can be reached at the mayor’s office at Riverview City Hall at 734-281-4201.
Cullen encouraged residents to call a 24-hour hotline at 888-223-2363 anytime they smell can the landfill at any time of day or night. The hotline is active seven days a week.
“The calls help us check wind conditions and get someone out there quick and correlate what’s going on at the landfill,” Cullen said.