Shawnee planning commission to consider renewing landfill operations permit

A special use permit for the company operating the landfill in western Shawnee is up for review.

The Shawnee planning commission tonight will consider renewing a special use permit for Deffenbaugh Industries to continue operating the landfill at the southwest corner of Holliday Drive and Interstate 435. Deffenbaugh is a subsidiary of Waste Management.

If the planning commission recommends renewing the special use permit — and the council approves it — then Deffenbaugh will be allowed to continue landfill operations for the next 15 months. A city staff report indicates that the landfill’s anticipated life is 41 years, from its inception in 2002 until 2043

Overshadowing the landfill use permit are the constant odor complaints from people who live in the areas near the landfill.

The number of odor complaints have decreased by nearly half each year for the past two years, according to a city staff report tracking the number of odors. In 2016, 415 odor reports were received. Last year, 243 reports were received; and between January and September of this year, 86 reports were received, five of which were in September.

“As a result of actions that have been taken over the past two years, the number of reports continues to be reduced from month to month from the prior year,” Shawnee staff wrote in its report in October, “however, in August 2018 as would be expected, there has been an uptick in the frequency of reports. The complaints in the area south of the landfill had been significantly reduced until the last month.”

The number of odor reports have continued to decline since the peak in December 2015, according to the staff report. From Sept. 30, 2017, to Sept. 30 of this year, there has been a 60 percent
improvement in odor report reduction.

Most of the recent complaints have come from the Lake Quivira area, staff wrote, indicating that numerous reports have occasionally been made on the same day. Staff also noted that the Mill Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was the source of odor because “the semi-annual turnover was longer than usual due to weather conditions.” The odor issue is resolved when that natural process is completed.

“The county’s input regarding the recent uptick in complaints is that this has been common throughout the years,” city staff wrote, noting that the summer months from July through September is commonly the most frequent period for odor reports. “The long heat spell, as well as westerly winds have contributed to an increase in complaints. The county reports that the operations meet the established requirements and foggers and misters are being used appropriately.”

Last year, 1.3 million tons of solid municipal waste were deposited at the landfill, according to the staff report. Staff expects complaints from the Lake Quivira area to drop when Waste Management moves its “collection cell” further to the west in 2020.

Staff noted that the number of odor complaints from Red Oak Hills also decreased when Waste Management closed a collection cell to the south and moved landfilling operations to their current location. In fact, the city received no complaints from Red Oak Hills from September 2017 through August 2018.

City staff noted that Shawnee no longer receives complaints reports about litter along I-435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway and along Holliday Drive. Part of the city’s contract with Waste Management stipulates that the company must clean up the right-of-way areas along those sections of roadway several times a month.