Orange County makes plans to clear air as frustration grows over stinky landfill

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Managers of an east Orange County landfill are considering testing the air quality inside people's homes as they continue to battle a nasty smell that's been causing problems for a year.

Some homeowners believe the gas responsible for the smell is getting trapped and concentrated in their houses.

But indoor testing is not on the county's long-term odor control plan.

A draft copy of the plan to tackle the problem goes into specifics about what workers are supposed to do to keep the smell from permeating the neighborhood and getting into people’s homes.

Document: Draft of plan to fix smelly landfill

"Things should be improving faster,” said resident Sandra Blanco.

Blanco said the worst part is that her house often smells worse inside than the air does outside.

For a year, hydrogen sulfide gas has been leaving the landfill and engulfing neighborhoods in the smell of rotten eggs.

A decision to mix construction waste, human waste and household trash was to blame.

On Thursday, landfill manager Jim Becker said he's hoping to avoid testing the air in people's homes by continuing to kill the hydrogen sulfide at the source, which he claims has already been cut down by 75 percent, from 1,900 parts per billion to 400 parts per billion.

"So if we are successful in controlling it, I don't think it will be a necessity to do that at all,” said Becker, who cited federal standards which say hydrogen sulfide becomes dangerous only at levels of 20,000 parts per billion and above.

Becker claimed indoor testing would produce numbers no higher than what shows up outside.

The current draft of the odor management plan calls for outdoor air testing only, “completed within two hours of sunrise [because] the collection of early morning samples creates a worst case bias."

But residents like Blanco said they don't care about numbers or daytime testing, when a sudden wave of gas washes into their homes in the middle of the night.

The plan also allows the landfill to continue taking so-called human waste bio-solids which contributed to the problem to begin with, but it calls for any drop-off of those materials to happen before 3 p.m.

Becker said that allows time to cover it up and stop the stink.

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