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‘Aggressive Actions’ Taken To Deal With Compost Smell

Havertown residents have complained about the smell coming from the shared compost program between Marple and Haverford townships.

HAVERTOWN–With some residents complaining about the smell emanating from the compost pile at the Haverford Township’s Public Works facility, “aggressive actions” are being taken, says Larry Gentile, Haverford Township manager.

At a recent Haverford Township Board of Commissioner’s meeting, some residents criticized the compost program, which was created in 2009 by Haverford and townships, because of the strong odor being produced, but steps have been taken to deal with the issue, Gentile explained to Patch last week in an email.

“There has been some odor complaints received by me (10 residents) and we have taken aggressive actions to address any odor issues,” Gentile stated. “The townships hired one of the best compost consultants in the country (Craig Coker) to assist with accomplishing this objective.” Coker will be at the facility next week to inspect the compost.

One of the remedies that the township has done was bringing in two large fans at a cost of $18,000 to blow the smell away from homeowners and an odor eliminator has been sprayed on the compost as well, Gentile wrote.

At the commissioner’s meeting, township officials spoke with the residents in private about the issue. Since then, the township has contacted the Department of Environmental Protection and “we advised that there are no health hazards relating with our program,” Gentile explained, adding that other environmental experts have been consulted with and other methods of addressing the odor issue are being researched.

While the compost program has given the township an odor problem, it is saving township residents money, assured Gentile.

“This program has made significant advances towards diverting yard waste and leaf disposal from our traditional trash stream—saving the Haverford Township taxpayer over $200,000 each year,” Gentile exclaimed.

The program also allows the Haverford Township Public Works department to collect leaves and process them into leaf mulch materials. Since the fall 2009, more than 12,000 tons of leaf waste has been collected, described Gentile.

The alternative to this program would be costly, he wrote.

“This material would have been placed in the trash stream collection system and would have cost our taxpayers $600,000 in disposal and operational fees,” Gentile expressed.

In fact, if the commissioners decided to end the compost program, it could cost an additional $200,000 to the 2013 Operating Budget for Haverford Township, Gentile warned.

“If the (commissioners) agree to end the program, all leaves collected in the fall of 2012 will require transport to the Delaware County Disposal Yard on Highland Avenue in Chester. This is an 18-mile trip, which takes 90 minutes for the entire load to be delivered and return,” stated Gentile. “Multiply this nine vehicles per day and multiple trips. The cost savings for gasoline alone is over $1,200 per day. This would have to happen five days per week for at least two months.” 

Marple Township Manager Anthony Hamaday has not returned Patch’s voice message seeking comment on this issue.

Phil Fairer January 25, 2012 at 03:17 PM
The odor was from this compost is really strong in the Havertown Westgate Hills neighborhood. I noticed it last evening while driving on the 200 and 300 blocks of Ivy Rock Lane. It is an embarrassment and a quality of life issue. I sincerely hope they can eliminate the compost odor and keep this program. If they can't, it should be eliminated. No one should have to live with this smell. By the way, I am not one of the 10 who have complained to Township authorities, but one of the many who, up until now, have just commiserated with neighbors.

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