Good Neighbor Campaigns

What’s the problem with Rumpke Landfill’s expansion?

photo: Craig Ruttle, Cincinnati Enquirer

The site of the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill in Colerain Township has gone from a gentle, rural valley to Hamilton county’s highest point in just 65 years. Known to its neighbors as “Mount Rumpke”, the site measures 509 acres and 1,064 feet above sea level and is the largest and tallest in the region. The landfill was expanded by 95 acres in 2004 and can accommodate waste at current generation rates until 2025. (source: Hamilton County Solid Waste Management Plan)

Rumpke has had serious environmental violations at this site. A 30 acre trash-slide later led to an ammonia leak into Banklick Creek measuring 830 times greater than normal levels. Rumpke was also fined for illegally accepting hazardous waste in 2005 and a subsurface fire of unknown origin has been burning since August 2009.

Now Rumpke wants another expansion – 350 acres –hoping to double the dump’s present footprint and extend its lifespan until 2055. Here are 3 good reasons not to expand the dump:

  • It is not necessary. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates 70% of waste currently going to the landfill can be recycled or composted and recycling rates are going up in Hamilton county. Why should we assume the expansion is needed when we could very well see waste generation rates decline?
  • Neighbors’ increased exposure to odors, dust and air pollution. Rumpke is currently permitted to release 94 million lbs. of air pollution annually from the landfill and gas plants alone, including particulate, carbon monoxide and other harmful gases. The fire has also increased odor incidents in the community, resulting in 47 formal complaints in one day.
  • Rumpke has other options. It has recently invested $6 million in their St. Bernard recycling facility and $2.5 million in their Dayton glass recycling plant. They are uniquely positioned to benefit from increased recycling in our region.

What about the township’s right to decide for itself?

Colerain Township denied Rumpke’s zoning request for this expansion in 2006. Rumpke sued, stating that the denial was a violation of their constitutional rights and furthermore, they were a public utility and exempt from local zoning laws. In 2009 a Hamilton County district court judge ruled in their favor and the township is appealing the decision.

Resources

The Future is Now: A Citizens’ Audit of the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, Property Owners Want Equal Rights (P.O.W.E.R.) and Ohio Citizen Action

Property Owners Want Equal Rights, Inc.

Administrative Orders from OEPA and the Action Plan regarding the fire

Recycling programs in the area

City of Cincinnati

Kentucky recycling facilities by county

Hamilton count

Butler county

Warren county

Clermont county

Property Owners Want Equal

Rights (P.O.W.E.R.), and statewide environmental group Ohio Citizen Action

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