Point Richmond landfill ordered to cease activities causing odor

Republic Services ordered to cease accepting compost materials at Parr Blvd. facility

If the earthy odor recently permeating the Point Richmond area was in fact coming from the movement of compost at a local landfill, then it should dissipate soon.

On Tuesday, the Contra Costa Department of Health issued a cease-and-desist order on activities causing a strong stench from the Republic Services landfill facility at 1 Parr Blvd.

Bielle Moore, spokeswoman for Republic Services, said the odor appears to have derived from the facility’s annual winterization project, which she said involves moving around compost materials for the purpose of preventing erosion during winter rains. The odor was pronounced by the recent heat wave, she said, much like a compost pile releases a foul stench in someone’s backyard on a hot day. Oxygen-deprived compost at the center or bottom of a pile can set off strong odors when churned.

Following complaints from residents about the widespread odor, officials with the air district and county health department met at the facility on Wednesday, Sept. 28 to confirm the odor, an air district spokesman told the Richmond Standard. The facility continued to spread materials until Friday, he said. This week, the air district issued three public nuisance violations against the facility while the county issued a cease and desist order.

Moore confirmed the winterization operation was halted Tuesday and said the odor from the facility should be noticeably diminished if not gone by now. She said the heat created an “imperfect storm” causing an atypical spread of odor. She says visits by the county and air district on Sept. 15, Sept. 27, Sept. 29 rendered no findings on odors. Not until their visits Monday and Tuesday did regulators order the cease and desist, she added.  The winterization project was nearly completed but the facility is now looking at other ways to prevent erosion, she said.

Moore also said persistent odors could alternatively derive from a wetlands restoration project in the area, among other sources.