October 23, 2020
LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel, on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), filed a civil lawsuit today against the operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township for failing to comply with state and federal regulations and endangering the public health, safety and welfare.
Attorney General Nessel and EGLE are seeking injunctive relief in Ingham County 30th Circuit Court to require Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. to operate its landfill in compliance with state and federal law for air quality and solid waste management.
“The operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill has continually demonstrated a blatant disregard for the serious concerns raised by community members and the state,” Nessel said. “This site has been a nuisance for years and the potential threat to the health of nearby residents is significant. At this juncture, legal action is clearly a necessity and my office will support EGLE’s enforcement efforts so that our residents’ health and our natural resources are not subjected to the hazardous pollution created by this landfill.”
The suit alleges that Advanced Disposal Services has consistently failed to install an adequate collection and control system to capture gas generated from both active and non-active areas of the landfill and failed to address leachate issues at its landfill. The operator indicated it would fix these problems but has failed to act.
Leachate is the liquid that gathers along the bottom double-liner of a landfill and can include liquid from the waste itself, rainwater and other outside sources. If not properly managed and removed, it can build up and potentially contaminate groundwater and other water resources.
“Our goal is to ensure Arbor Hills Landfill is not a nuisance to neighbors, and that the facility operates safely in compliance with state and federal laws for air quality and waste management,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark.
EGLE began receiving complaints in January 2016 from nearby residents about odor coming from the landfill, which is located at 10690 West Six Mile Road in Washtenaw County’s Salem Township. Solid waste landfills emit air pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide and methane. Hydrogen sulfide emissions contribute to the nuisance odors. Methane is extremely flammable and presents safety risks if not properly managed and allowed to build up.
Rep. Matt Koleszar and Sen. Dayna Polehanki, whose districts include the Arbor Hills Landfill, have also been fielding resident calls about the site.
“This progress is due to the tireless work of advocates in our community,” said Koleszar. “Our friends and neighbors stood up to say corporate polluters who willingly contaminate Michigan’s air, water and land for the sake of profit must be held accountable — and I stand with you. I want to thank the Attorney General for joining us in this fight to protect our home.”
"Northville Township residents have suffered far too long due to the negligence of the operators of the Arbor Hills Landfill,” said Senator Polehanki. “Their blatant disregard for air quality has been a nuisance to our community for years without meaningful improvement. Our community members and leaders persistently sounded the alarm about the landfill’s continuous violations, and I am grateful for their fierce advocacy. It has been a pleasure to work with Attorney General Dana Nessel as she holds this landfill’s operators accountable.”
Following investigations by EGLE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fugitive emissions were found to be the primary source of the odors. The state department issued multiple violation notices to the operator for its failures to properly operate the landfill and the gas collection and control system.
However, Advanced Disposal Services’ failure to address the concerns has resulted in the state filing this lawsuit.