WM applauds H2S testing results amid continued odor complaints

Tuesday evening, Waste Management (WM) released a Community Update claiming recent health assessment findings reflect "no public health concerns" to the community.

Despite this claim, neighbors continue to be plagued by odors stemming from the  High Acres facility; causing area residents to question what they are actually smelling, and if WM, the NYSDEC and Town Officials are doing enough to protect the community's health and ability to enjoy their private property.

WM’s assertion is based on summaries from two WM-funded consulting firms, (CPF Associates, Inc., and MEH Consulting). These summaries are based on air monitoring data collected from the landfill perimeter and nearby Northside Dudley school for six weeks. The studies show no exceedances of the New York’s ambient air quality standard for H2S--the gas WM believes has caused odor complaints. Their conclusion is that recent testing and the air measurements collected present no evidence of a health threat.

So, if H2S isn’t the gas residents are smelling, what is it?

Due to its garbage/egg smell, H2S (Hydrogen sulfide) is often listed as the likely culprit for landfill odors. However, many sources indicate that H2S only makes up a small percentage of Landfill Gas (LFG), along with carbon dioxide, mercaptan gases, organic compounds, and other sulfur compounds.

During his meeting a March Perinton Town Board Meeting, residents previously questioned the lack of data from ongoing H2S testing. At that time NYSDEC Regional Director Paul D’Amato even admitted that odors may not be due solely to H2S;

March 2018 Perinton Town Board Meeting Minutes

March 2018 Perinton Town Board Meeting Minutes

WM’s newsletter relies on the summaries of a single round of testing for one landfill gas component. These details have prompted concerns that the message of WM's newsletter, could be misleading to the community. Based only on this information, how can we safely assume that there is no health risk to our community?

FAFE does not agree with conclusions based on the aforementioned testing for the following reasons;

  1. All H2S testing at the four testing locations has been conducted by GHD Environmental consulting (GHD), a company who has a known association with, and was paid by, WM. 
  2. Weekly summaries are provided to the NYSDEC and the Towns of Perinton and Macedon on an irregular basis. To date, only the Town of Perinton has chosen to release these summaries to its residents.

  3. H2S air monitoring began on March 6, 2018, nearly four months after the community began to raise concerns about increased odors at the facility. The program, and resulting studies, do not include any analysis from the months of September 2017 through February 2018--the time period when residents claim odors were the most severe.

  4. The CPF report states the Acrulog H2S monitor detects readings between 3ppb - 5ppb. However, the MEH Consulting summary report the monitor resolution is between 1ppb - 2000ppb. FAFE continues to examine the reliability of this testing method, and the true detection level of the H2S device that was used.

More must be done to protect the people and reputation of our community. FAFE’s legal team has requested for full suite Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) monitoring, however, the NYSDEC has only required WM to perform H2S monitoring. FAFE urges the NYSDEC and WM to perform the full suite of VOC monitoring when odor events are occurring, in addition  to groundwater testing outside the landfill.

FAFE continues to push WM and local officials to bring resolution to this issue.

To read the summaries in full, we have linked them below: 

  1. CPF Analysis of GHD's H2S Monitoring Data
  2. MEH Consulting Summary of GHD's H2S Monitoring Data
  3. Town of Perinton postings of GHD H2S Monitoring Data Summaries: