Attend landfill meeting

One of the most troubling aspects of the current conversation in regards to Sunny Farms Landfill is that this stain on northwest Ohio is gearing up for yet another expansion. There is a documented history of non-compliance with Environmental Protection Agency directives, in addition to violations of state law. Yet, it is all too likely the EPA will take only the bare steps that it considers to be the minimum. Is there any doubt that Sunny Farms likely considers its proposed expansion to be money in the bank?

Representatives of Sunny Farms assert the “odor” issue is merely a nuisance. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that can be lethal. One difficulty of understanding what constitutes the difference between a hazardous concentration of H2S versus a nuisance gas is that there is no absolute agreement as to when there is an elevated risk of toxic exposure. However, the following information was taken from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose or throat. It also may cause difficulty in breathing for some asthmatics. The next section goes on to state that “Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may cause headaches, poor memory, tiredness and balance problems.” Of note, Sunny Farms was directed by the EPA to limit H2S readings measured at the perimeter to 15 ppb. In response to citizen complaints, the Seneca County Health Department repeated these same measurements. The readings came back as high as 184 ppb. Could this be a reflection of the fact that the EPA relies upon Sunny Farms to self-monitor?

The crisis this community is facing is the fact that for each time Sunny Farms is determined to be non-compliant, the EPA simply fines it. Handing out fines would appear to be counterproductive. The net effect is that Sunny Farms simply imports more waste in an effort to offset the fine. By leveling fines, the EPA may be compounding the problem. What would be far more effective is if the EPA mandated a moratorium on out-of-state trash. This approach would offer at least some glimmer of hope that Sunny Farms would begin to take the health and concerns of local residents seriously. Apart from that, a moratorium would provide a period of time when employees would be able to put the 100-percent focus needed to fix the issues that already exist. Once this work was completed and tested to be in compliance, only then should the EPA even begin to consider whether to allow Sunny Farms to resume normal operations.

I had the experience of driving past Sunny Farms Landfill nearly every day over a five-year period. It was not uncommon to be taken aback by the smell. On the worse days, I would extend my drive time by maintaining a greater distance from Sunny Farms. Despite that experience, I never once called any hotline in complaint. I regret that inaction now. With each passing year, the odor, which now closely resembles that of a dead animal, has progressively grown more severe. The radius of neighborhoods encompassed by this scourge has extended further out, as well. Jan. 4, my 11-year-old granddaughter, my spouse and yours truly went for a 40-minute bicycle ride in the north section of Fostoria. This was to celebrate an unusually pleasant day, by January standards. Although the smell of Sunny Farms was not as intense as it has been on other occasions, it was still beyond unpleasant. All three of us experienced burning eyes and difficulty breathing. One to two hours later, our 11-year-old cyclist suffered a significant nose bleed. It was her first experience with a nose bleed.

It is vital that everyone living in this area monitor what actions are put into play by the EPA. We also need to observe the response of our state and local representatives in regards to the latest expansion proposed by Sunny Farms. By this area, I am including anyone who resides in or near Tiffin, Findlay or Carey. There is some evidence to suggest that at least some of the residents who live in or near Arcadia, Bascom, Alvada, Van Buren, Bettsville, Risingsun, Bloomdale and Vanlue are already being affected by Sunny Farms. Note that if this expansion is allowed to proceed, there is a significant chance that anyone living in that much-expanded radius as outlined above will suffer harm. Part of this loss comes in the form of reduced property values.

There is a meeting scheduled for public comment on issues related to Sunny Farms Landfill. This meeting is Wednesday and will be at Fostoria High School. Please do not wait until it is your child or grandchild who effectively suffers a physical assault by virtue of simply breathing the air. Be forewarned. If you do not speak up now, you may not be offered a second chance.

Karl Walters,