Hamilton County's new rules for landfills focus on giving public more input

Resident: 'I don't want to smell garbage'
Rumpke Waste and Recycling's landfill in Colerain Township contains 63 million tons of solid waste and has the capacity to add another 100 million tons, according to the EPA.
Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 21:39:45-05

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, OH — If you follow the "Stop the Stink" signs in Harrison, you'll eventually arrive at Michael Brandt's home near the Bond Road Landfill.

The landfill's owner, Rumpke Waste and Recycling, wants to expand the landfill and increase the amount of solid waste stored there.

"It's just going to make this place smell terrible," Brandt said. "I don't want to wake up every morning, come out here to where we live and work, smelling garbage."

Comments like that got the attention of the Hamilton County Commission.

On Dec. 16, the commission approved new rules for landfills in the county that will give commissioners more oversight and the public more input into how landfills operate.

Now, the county commissioners must approve new landfills and modifications for current landfills.

According to Hamilton County's resolution, 43% of the waste in Rumpke's Hamilton County landfills comes from outside the county.

The resolution also mentions that more than 20 Ohio counties have adopted similar rules for solid waste.

The Rumpke-owned landfill in Colerain Township is one of the largest in the country and by far the biggest landfill in Ohio.

The landfill contains 63 million tons of waste and the capacity to add another 100 million tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Residents have repeatedly complained about odors, traffic and noise at Rumpke's Colerain Township landfill.

"We don't have rules in Hamilton County addressing those concerns," Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said. "So, that's what these rules allow us to do."

But at last week's Hamilton County Commission meeting, Rumpke executive Bill Rumpke III said the new rules will create more obstacles for his already heavily regulated business.

"These rules are limiting an essential service that is extremely integral to the region's public health and economic growth," Rumpke III said.

In a written statement, Rumpke Waste and Recycling insisted that Hamilton County's new rules prevent the company from being able to plan for the region's needs and stay in compliance with environmental protection laws.

But the company didn't say how the new rules prevent it from doing that.

It's also unclear how the new rules will impact millions of dollars in revenues landfills generate for communities in Hamilton County.

But residents who live near the landfills call it an important step that's long overdue.