Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republic Services says raw compost material on Parr Road site within limits

  POINT RICHMOND - Republic Services area manager for post-collection services told the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night that piles of raw compost material at its Parr Road facility - the material pointed to by several public agencies as the most likely source of the foul smells that have plagued the area for months - have been within legally allowed limits.
     "We were within our limits all during our process," Don Litchfield said.
Republic Services' Don Litchfield
     Litchfield's statement was in reference to questions from the audience about a Nov. 30, 2016 report from the Contra Costa County Environmental Health Department that said the company was way beyond its permitted amount.
     "In some cases, the amount of material on site greatly exceeded that allowable by the RFI (Report of Facility Information)," the report says. "For example, the maximum amount of 'curing compost' allowed onsite is 32,000 cubic yards, but 359,054 cubic yards were found during an Aug. 9, 2016 inspection..."

     That same report - made public at the Weds. Dec, 7, 2016  PRNC meeting - also pointed to a Sept. 22, 2016 event that kicked off a string of more that 400 hundred complaints from area residents about the noxious odor that has been blamed for headaches, sore throats and nausea.
     ..."The operator moved a large amount of organic material from the compost piles and spread it on the south, west and north facing slopes of the closed landfill, reportedly as an erosion control measure," the report says. The disturbed material ... released odors that were detected by numerous West County residents, in some cases more than 5 miles away."
     Republic Services blamed the discrepancy between county estimates of raw compost on site and its own calculations on the way the windrow piles of raw material are measured.
   PRNC members  - and others who packed the Point Richmond Community Center for the meeting - also questioned how safe the air is when laden with the odors that at times have caused Point residents to stay inside their homes to avoid breathing the fumes.
     "There are 105 VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can come out of compost," Point resident Bill Nadal said.
     "Why are we the parakeets in the mine?"
     The PRNC meeting came just one day after Contra Costa County health officials issued a cease-and-desist order, telling Republic Services to stop taking any more green waste and to prepare a new Report of Facility Information about its composting practices.
     The green waste that would have gone to the Parr Road facility is being trucked to other Republic Services composting facilities in the interim, Litchfield said.
     The county's order was announced at the beginning of a Richmond City Council discussion of the odor problems Tuesday night.

     The City of Richmond will be taking up Republic's city use permit in coming months including a review of how much raw material Republic is allowed to have on site at any given time, city planning director Richard Mitchell told the council.
     Wayne Kino of the BAAQMD told the council air quality officials are concerned about what will happen when Republic starts moving the large mounds of material already on site, material he said officials are worried has already begun to go septic.
     "There are going to be a lot of issues as they break up those piles," Kino said.
Wednesday's PRNC discussion about the odors also included comments from officials from Chevron as well as Joe Doser, a county supervising environmental health specialist.