After years of odor complaints from New Castle and Wilmington-area residents and businesses, the State of Delaware has finally stepped in to protect public health and quality of life from the Peninsula Compost Facility at 612 Christiana Ave in Wilmington.
Peninsula Compost is an organic composting facility that specializes in food, organic and yard waste. Its Wilmington facility was poorly managed, fouling the air with rotting odors. The State has ordered the compost facility to discontinue all composting activities by January 16, 2015 and to remove all compost and related waste from the site by March 31, 2015.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s press release:
DNREC Secretary Small orders closure of Peninsula Compost facility in Wilmington
DOVER (Oct. 21, 2014) – DNREC Secretary David Small has issued a Secretary’s Order to Peninsula Compost Company LLC of Wilmington requiring closure of its recycling facility. The Order, signed Oct. 20, directs that the company immediately cease accepting any material at the facility and initiate steps to implement an orderly closure in compliance with a closure plan, the Composting Approval for Closure Activities (attached to the Secretary’s Order).
In addition to immediately ceasing accepting any waste into the facility, the Order requires all active composting of existing material onsite to be completed by Jan. 16, 2015. All compost and related waste must be removed from the facility by March 31, 2015.
“Peninsula Compost Company has placed an undue burden on the quality of life of residents in the City of Wilmington, parts of the City of New Castle and part of New Castle County – particularly those living in close proximity to the facility due to frequent uncontrolled odors,” said Secretary Small. “The company has been unable to maintain compliance with DNREC’s Beneficial Use Determination permit.”
The Peninsula Compost Company began operating the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center in December 2009 with approval from DNREC via a Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) permit. The BUD approved the company to accept and process hatchery waste, food waste, yard waste, wood waste, and animal bedding, in order to produce and market quality compost products at its facility on Christiana Avenue in Wilmington. The company was processing about 115,000 tons of waste per year.
Since operations began at the facility, DNREC has coordinated with Peninsula Compost Company to improve operations and compliance. However, over time, the company has been unable to maintain compliance and minimize odors. Some of the issues at the facility related to violations and odors include:
- Equipment has been non-operational, sometimes for extended periods of time.
- Time needed to produce finished compost takes longer than originally planned.
- Waste or finished compost have been stored onsite above approved quantities.
- Non-compostable residuals from the screening process and trash have been stored onsite above approved levels.
- Trench drains and wear of the paved composting pad have allowed for standing leachate onsite.
- Poor maintenance of stormwater ponds and aeration systems.
- Gore® Cover composting system has not been maintained appropriately.
- The mixture of food waste with yard waste/wood waste has been at a ratio that is too high.
- Feedstocks and composting windrows have been contaminated with non-compostable wastes.
- Occurrences of fires at the facility.
- Failure to develop markets to meet production demands.
“We remain committed to aggressively pursuing recycling opportunities to preserve our landfill capacity, create jobs and reduce our reliance on raw materials to manufacture products,” said Secretary Small. “Composting can be an effective process to recycle organics while minimizing impacts to the environment and the public.”
Quality compost is a valuable soil amendment that reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides while improving moisture retention and restoring organic matter to soil. Quality compost is prized in home gardens, on lawns and turf, and in commercial agriculture. It is inexpensive compared to synthetic fertilizers.
The Secretary’s Order with attached Composting Approval for Closure Activities can be found on DNREC’s Website.