Compost Cincy Cleanup Plan

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 proposed 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.

Next Steps

The City of Cincinnati is committed to working with local residents and businesses to clean up the site as quickly as possible, including moving forward with preliminary odor control measures as soon as approval is received from the Ohio EPA.

A timeline for the material processing phase will be established once the Ohio EPA approval is achieved and all work funds are allocated.