Columbia Sanitary Landfill changing odor control system

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COLUMBIA - After receiving odor complaints, the Columbia Sanitary Landfill is switching to a new method of odor control.

Landfill workers will now cover trash with clay instead of mulch. This comes as part of a settlement between the landfill, Missouri Attorney General's office and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Landfill Superintendent Nick Paul said the landfill started receiving odor complaints in 2013 from surrounding neighborhoods. He said members of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources came and inspected the odor control system.

"They didn't smell it outside our perimeter, but, to be proactive, we peeled the mulch off and started covering with clay, which alleviates the problem of odors," Paul said.

Dominique Cartee lives in one of the neighborhoods close to the landfill. She said she has smelled a "sulfury smell" on multiple occasions.

"It was relatively bothersome," she said.

Besides now using clay, which Paul said seals in bad smells that mulch lets out, workers inspect the landfill daily with the Nasal Ranger. The device measures odor in the air in parts per million.

"You put it up to your nose, and if you smell something, you put the Nasal Ranger on, and check and see if you can smell it," Paul said. "And if it's a bad odor, then you put it down and smell a few minutes later. You got to get three hits in a row to find out if it's an actual odor problem."

Nick Paul demonstrates how to use Nasal Ranger

He said the device is meant to find out if odor is leaving the sight of the landfill, "Because at a landfill, you're going to get some kind of odor."

The Missouri DNR also found the landfill was violating laws by allowing leachate to be formed. Paul said leachate is bacteria that's formed when water makes contact with trash. After receiving five or six inches of rain, Paul said water overflowed into the landfill's basin, which is when the leachate problem occurred.

The landfill is spending $30,000 to implement the new odor control system.

"Sounds like that's pretty costly," Cartee said. "But I'd say that they are responding well to the community, and I think it would be beneficial."

Paul said when the landfill receives complaints, it sends workers to the individual's home to see if they can smell the odor, with and without the Nasal Ranger.

"You want to keep your neighbors happy," Paul said. "Like I said before, you're going to have some odor, but you want to control the odor so it's not obnoxious to people."