Compost Cincy Cleanup Plan

Status Update 12/12/14:

The active field work to clean up the Compost Cincy site was completed on December 15, 2014.  The City’s contractor mixed the unfinished materials and removed trash prior to constructing windrows to allow for the composting process to finish. OES staff will be routinely inspecting the site and monitoring the piles for completion. This is expected to take three to four months. Once compost has fully matured, the site will be restored.

Compost Cincy (5656 Este Ave.) Cleanup Plan

Cincinnati’s business community has made it a priority to find a way to recycle their organic waste. This waste reuse can save money, create jobs, conserve landfill space, produce landscaping products and, in an anaerobic digester, generate renewable energy.

In August 2012, the City of Cincinnati leased a portion of the former Center Hill Landfill to Compost Cincy to operate a commercial food waste composting facility. Compost Cincy operated the facility from approximately August 2012 through December 2013.

Due primarily to odor issues and complaints from neighbors, the City of Cincinnati notified Compost Cincy in April 2013 that its lease would not be renewed, and ordered Compost Cincy to shut down the facility no later than Dec. 31, 2013, which was also the date that the facility’s state operating license expired.

Due to continued non-compliance, the City of Cincinnati ordered Compost Cincy to vacate the site by 5 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2014. At that time, a new lock was installed on the gate, and the City of Cincinnati took control of the property.

Cleanup Strategy

The City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment & Sustainability (OES) is managing the cleanup of the site, with oversight from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

An estimated 40,000 cubic yards of unfinished compost material and other waste currently remains. The Ohio EPA initially directed OES to dispose all remaining waste in a landfill. However, the cost for this process would have been unreasonably high, at about $1 million. OES was concerned about odors during that operation as well, and believes that an alternate process would be less expensive and environmentally preferable.

Therefore, OES has submitted a Remediation Workplan to Ohio EPA, outlining an approach to clean up and restore the site to its pre-existing condition, or better. The Workplan was prepared by and will be implemented by Cardno, a leading environmental consulting firm. Preliminary Workplan feedback from the Ohio EPA has been favorable.

Summary Of Workplan

Compost Cincy left approximately 40,000 cubic yards of unfinished compost at the site. This material will not effectively break down without air and a proper mix of materials. The primary source of the current smell is unfinished compost decomposing without proper air.

The Workplan calls for preliminary work, including the application of a dilute hydrogen peroxide spray as an odor control measure. This is expected to reduce the smell and accelerate the composting process.

Due to Compost Cincy’s flawed operating procedures, a substantial amount of trash is littered throughout the compost, which will be manually separated. Storm water controls will be constructed to prevent leakage from reaching Mill Creek.

Once preliminary work is complete, Cardno will restart the compost breakdown process by blending, aerating, and amending the waste, and placing it into windrows. Odor control measures will be used during this stage in order to minimize the impact on the surrounding area. This stage is anticipated to take up to four weeks, and despite the use of best practices, odors from the site will likely increase during this time. The approximate cost for this work will be $300,000.


Field work is scheduled to be initiated November 17, 2014. The project schedule is outlined below.


Start Date

End Date

Duration (weeks)

Preliminary Activities:  storm water control evaluation/design, preliminary odor control application and initial pre-remedial sampling/analysis




Construct storm water controls




Composting operations (one week break for Thanksgiving Holiday November 24th – 28th)




Post-remediation monitoring and operations


in progress


Testing, spreading of remaining material, demobilization, site clean-up




Final report preparation and submittal




The schedule is subject to change, pending weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.  

Office of Environment & Sustainability

The mission of the Office of Environment & Sustainability (OES) is to lead Cincinnati City Government and the larger community toward sustainability and the practice of good environmental stewardship.

The Office of Environment & Sustainability is active in air quality, brownfield redevelopment, climate protection, energy management, environmental compliance, environmental justice, green roof loans, urban agriculture, recycling, and waste reduction.

Leadership - Led by Larry Falkin

Larry's prior work experience includes time with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Kansas City Department of Environmental Management, the Jackson County (Missouri) Department of Parks and Recreation and the Environmental Compliance Oversight Corporation.

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