Bob Downing

Work is likely to begin this week to correct a new odor-causing problem at a landfill in southern Stark County.

Aluminum waste buried inside part of the 258-acre Countywide Recycling & Disposal Facility in Pike Township triggered a reaction and fires more than eight years ago.

The fires are moving to the west on the property, pushing noxious gases and leachate — landfill liquids — toward the landfill’s western slope, where they are collecting around what appears to be a clogged or slow drain.

The chemical reaction and excessive winter cold resulted in additional landfill settlement and triggered about 10 odor complaints from landfill neighbors, EPA spokeswoman Linda Oros said.

The fires cause buried waste to break down faster than under usual conditions, creating voids that upper wastes fill in.

The corrective work by landfill owner Republic Services Inc. is expected to take about two months and will be done under the supervision of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Landfill manager Tim Vandersall said four contractors will handle the work, which is expected to cost in excess of $1 million.

The project will require replacing a toe drain, installing a soil buttress, adding 18 dewatering wells and enlarging the gas-extraction system on the landfill’s western edge, Vandersall said.

On March 6, Republic Services submitted its corrective plan to the EPA. The agency had no major problems with that remedy.

A similar problem on the landfill’s south slope was corrected in 2012.

Republic Services is confident the project will ensure landfill stability and eliminate liquid, gas and odor concerns on the site’s western edge near Interstate 77, Vandersall said.

The EPA and Republic Services expect the reaction and subsurface fires — triggered by the buried aluminum waste coming in contact with landfill liquids — to die out slowly. No one can say how long it might take.

The landfill remains hot, according to reports submitted to the EPA. Maximum temperatures continue to be steady, at just over 200 degrees, and the average landfill temperature continues to read about 130 degrees. Normal landfill temperatures are 120 to 130 degrees. Landfill temperatures at Countywide hit 270 degrees in 2008.

The EPA has said the landfill’s excessive heat might have compromised its liner, but proving if that happened is almost impossible. There are layers of clay under the liner that probably would prevent problems, and there are groundwater monitoring wells around the site. The agency has no evidence of leakage from the liner.

Republic Services, based in Florida, has spent more than $85 million since early 2006 to correct various problems at Countywide.

Republic Services uses 170 acres at Countywide — one of the largest landfills in Ohio — to take in trash from Summit and other counties in Northeast Ohio. It is authorized to accept up to 7,800 tons and has 100 years of capacity.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.