Wednesday, January 25, 2017

County orders Republic Services to stop accepting green waste for composting

  RICHMOND -  Contra Costa County has ordered Republic Services' Parr Road facility to stop accepting green waste for its composting operation, starting today.
   The cease and desist order - delivered to the company at 5 p.m. Tuesday - also includes a requirement that the company provide information about how it will operate in the future to avoid the noxious odors that have plagued the area since last summer.
   The announcement about the county's order came during a Richmond City Council study session about the bad smells.
   "Basically we are calling it a time out," Marilyn Underwood of the county environmental health department said. The order is open-ended and won't be lifted until the county is satisfied the problem of smells - and other health-related concerns - are taken care of, she added.
   In the interim, green waste that would normally be taken to Republic's Richmond facility will be diverted to Milpitas and other Republic facilities.

  The council study session came after months of complaints by area residents of a foul odor that has been was blamed for various health issues including headaches, sore throats and nausea.
   Since early fall the facility has been cited six times for creating a public nuisance, Wayne Kino, director of compliance for the Bay Area Air Quality Municipal District said.

County health, Bay Area air quality and recycling officials brief the City Council Tuesday

   The Republic Services timeout also comes as the City of Richmond is preparing to review the city-issued use permit for the facility.
   Richmond Planning Director Richard Mitchell said the city will be looking at Republic's operation to see if its current acceptance of green waste has exceeded what is allowable under its permit.
   In July, county environmental health inspectors discovered that that facility had 10 times the allowable amount of material on site - and that much of that raw compost had gone sour.
   "We still have serious concerns," Joe Doser of the county environmental health department told the council.

  Richmond Mayor Tom Butt - who asked the council to hold Tuesday's study session - said that at a tour of the facility last week, he and city manager Bill Lindsay observed that only a fraction of the raw composting material was being processed in a newly installed system.
   The balance was stacked in huge piles awaiting processing.
   "It smelled pretty rank," Butt said.
   BAAQMD's Kino said that his agency was concerned that the windrows Butt referenced are already going septic.
   "There are going to be a lot of issues as they break up those piles," Kino said.

  Tonight the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council is scheduled to hear a presentation from Republic Services about its new composting system installed early this year.
   There is also expected to be discussion about whether Republic is meeting its contract obligations to the West Contra Costa Integrated Waste Management Authority - an issue brought up Tuesday night by Stan Hakes of Recyclemore.
   The PRNC meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center and is open to the public.

By Michael J. Fitzgerald