Cincinnati, OH

Mt. Rumpke 2.0 presenting risks to residents - already.

The Cincinnati Post
Sand Run floods with water draining from Mt. Rumpke 2.0The Cincinnati Post, 2022

The torrential rains on Thursday caused significant flooding on Sand Run Road at the entrance to Mt. Rumpke 2.0. Several roads in the tri-state had flooding. The difference is, other roads aren't downhill from a landfill that houses decaying garbage on top of a waste site used by Monsanto, the subject of numerous lawsuits related to toxic materials.

This is the 3rd hazardous incident occurring at the new Rumpke entrance in the few months since construction. The other 2 incidents involved pooled water accumulating directly opposite the new entrance and freezing over, according to witnesses with Ditch the Dump who provided pictures of the conditions and as confirmed by the county engineer's office. In the first incident, the accumulated waters were so thick the County Engineer's office had to respond with 3 heavy equipment vehicles and break up the 3+ inch-thick ice and dig a new drainage ditch opposite the entrance. Jeff Newby of the County Engineer's Office denies that the flooded roadway has anything to do with the construction of the entrance and other ground moving works at Mt. Rumpke 2.0.

Common sense dictates otherwise.
Floodwaters near Mt. Rumpke 2.0 created their own right way along Sand Run Road since Rumpke's new entrance and earthworks began.The Cincinnati Post, 2022

Residents, nonprofits, and environmental groups, collectively identified as the Solid Waste Caucus, have joined together to oppose the increase of garbage hauled into the facility. One of their complaints includes that Sand Run is a rural, yet very busy, connector between 2 primary routes and is not safe for the heavy trucks transversing the steep hill and winding roadway. Rumpke's traffic study stated that the road carries about 274 "trucks" per day, demonstrating the safe passage of their vehicles. Advocates complain that personal use pick-up trucks, weighing about 5,000 pounds, are nowhere near the same as garbage trucks that are 10 times larger carrying a full load.

However, the greater concern is the runoff waters flowing down Mt. Rumpke 2.0 through the trash heap to the roadway, a senior community, and the Whitewater River between 2 roads without public water service. Sandy Stehlin, an avid canoeist who lives along the river and a member of Ditch the Dump which opposes the landfill, stated in a public meeting

I think it's quite amazing that Rumpke has been able to convince the EPA that they can somehow suspend the principles of physics and gravity and put a dump on a hillside,

when explaining the likely contamination of the Whitewater River due to leachate (water contaminated by coming into contact with decaying waste) running from the site into the river that is rated one of the cleanest in Ohio. (See video here ) The landfill is catty-corner across the river from the Green Acres Canoe recreational site, one of the most used recreational spots along the river.

The Ohio EPA permitted the landfill to expand its operation last Spring by granting it a "boundary change" they categorized as a mere "alteration" without any significance, much to the chagrin of residents from Whitewater, Harrison, and Bright, Indiana. Generally, changes that increase risk or tonnage into a landfill require a public hearing as part of a modification process.

The Ohio EPA gave Rumpke a pass.

Now, we see the results of lax regulation by the Ohio EPA and inadequate foresight in the plans submitted to the Hamilton County Engineer's Office. No one foresaw what all the residents already knew. This wasn't going to work. And, a landfill on the top of a hill presents a significant threat to the people and the environment below, per Stehlin.
Storm waters rushing down the hillside.The Cincinnati Post, 2022

However, no one is tracking the severity and frequency of the problem with dumping trash on the top of a huge hill directly above residences and a scenic waterway. Routinely, Rumpke responds to flooding conditions at the landfill site. Rumpke's permit only allows them to work between 6 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday unless there exists an "imminent risk of harm to people or property." Despite the persistent dangerous problem, there are no records to reflect these emergency responses - and, there is no record of the events occurring Thursday. While Rumpke was pumping off water to their leachate pond to prevent a breach that would be disastrous, no one came out to assess whether or not the water flushing the hillside contained contaminated waste, according to the Ohio EPA. Residents living directly below the landfill nor its neighbors are ever alerted to the "imminent risk" other than the loud clanging of trucks coming in and out of the property during even a minor rainfall.

The facility is not safe according to advocates. Not now, never has been, and never will be - gravity isn't going to change.

It's only going to get worse. The flooding is exacerbated by the destruction of natural barriers, earth-moving, construction, and, undoubtedly, contaminated waters flowing down the hillside, into the streets, and eventually into the Whitewater River.

In December, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners passed a rule to regulate landfills within the county. The rule was the first of its kind in the county. Under the new rule, the commissioners would have the authority to override the Ohio EPA and other bodies granting of a permit to landfills. Flooding, failure to contain contaminated waters, odors, the impact on recreational and business activities, and the impact on the quality of life of residents would be at the sole discretion of the commissioners.

Rumpke filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming the new rule is unconstitutional and seeks to have it rescinded. Some members of the Hamilton County Solid Waste Policy Committee and other interested parties are working to incorporate these issues into the Solid Waste Plan Update. Still, other members of the committee are working to strike the new rule and policies entirely. There will be a public hearing on the issue on March 15th for those who wish to weigh in.

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