This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

JEFFERSON PARISH – The cause of a foul odor residents say has been emanating from a Jefferson Parish landfill has been identified, and an official responsible for the smell has stepped down.

Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni announced the developments in the long-simmering controversy at a press conference on July 23.

“Today I am announcing corrective actions to dramatically reduce and outright eliminate noxious odors that are emanating from the parish landfill in Waggaman,” Yenni said.

Independent, third-party experts were brought in to review the state of operations at the landfill, Yenni said, and the technicians have been assessing the daily operations since April.

“Complaints of recurring odors in Harahan, River Ridge, and Waggaman, led me and others to assemble a strike team to uncover a contributing source or sources of the smell,” Yenni said.

The strike team members have been in the field inspecting industrial plants and other locations that could be the source of the odors, and they have identified the origin point.

Yenni said he has informed Louisiana Regional Landfill Company, formerly IESI Louisiana, the waste disposal company contracted by the parish, that they are in breach of contract for failing to fully contain and prevent these odors.

Leachate, the liquid that percolates through landfills and drains away, has not been contained and disposed of properly, interrupting the containment and management of methane gas, Yenni said.

But the landfill company disputes much of Yenni’s comments at today’s press conference.

Here’s the response from the company’s president, Worthing Jackman:

“As it relates to the allegation of foul odors coming from the Landfill, the landfill gas collection and control system at the Landfill is designed to capture landfill gases which cause odors.  Jefferson Parish operates and maintains the landfill gas collection and control system at the Landfill, not LRLC.  It is well documented that the landfill gas collection and control system at the Landfill does not function properly.  In an effort to assist Jefferson Parish with potential odors that may be coming from the Landfill, LRLC, by letter dated July 20, 2018, has offered to take over the operation, inspection, adjustment, repair, and maintenance of the landfill gas collection and control system for Phase III-B and Phase IV-A of the Landfill for 90 days at LRLC’s sole cost and expense.  The Parish has not yet responded to that offer.  In addition, LRLC, at its own expense, has hired a nationally known odor mitigation firm in order to assist the Parish in identifying all sources of local odors, including the two River Birch landfills immediately adjacent to the Jefferson Parish Landfill.  A final report detailing those findings will be made public in the coming weeks.

“We were led to believe today’s press conference was intended to alert the public to our offer to resolve the parish’s odor issue at the Landfill and thank us for our offer.  We are dismayed by the Parish’s actions today and can only speculate on what may have transpired behind the scenes since our offer, especially in light of the troubled history of the site prior to our involvement and historical political influence of the neighboring River Birch landfill.”

A “side letter” signed by the previous administration had been filed without the consent of the Parish Council allowing IESI to not meet leachate standards.

Yenni said IESI should refund a portion of the contract money the parish has paid since the leachate was not properly dealt with.

“Today, I have accepted the resignation of the parish’s landfill engineer,” Yenni said. “This employee has been responsible for oversight of the landfill, and he has been responsible for overseeing IESI.”

Yenni said the parish plans to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to ensure the odor problems are taken care of and will not return, citing a similar project he undertook as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Kenner.