Odor Prompts Johnston to Shut Down Energy Company at Central Landfill

Jul 9, 2013

The town of Johnston has taken the unusual step of shutting down the company charged with drawing off gases from the state’s Central Landfill.  The reason is that persistent rotten egg smell that’s dogged the town for years.

Broadrock Renewables is supposed to siphon off gas from the landfill and turn it into energy. But lately the company has been allowing it to spew from pipes into the atmosphere, according to Johnston town officials.  Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena has issued a cease and desist order, requiring the company to suspend operations until the problem is fixed.

Johnston's mayor has ordered Broadrock Renewables to be shut down due to return of the "rotten egg" odor.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

“They were venting gas out into the atmosphere without being treated which causes an obnoxious odor. In the past I have fielded many complaints and many calls,” said Polisena. “And I have submitted and sent violation notices which were answered but totally ignored. And it came to a point where we had no choice but to close the plant down.”

The gas will be temporarily removed with flares. Ultimately, Johnston town officials hope the quasi-governmental agency that runs the landfill, the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, will take over the gas recovery process.

Broadrock says it was -- quote -- "completely surprised"  by the town of Johnston's cease and desist order. Company spokesman Bill Fisher says the company has been working with the town to address its concerns.  The company denies the mayor's charge that they have been releasing untreated landfill gas into the atmosphere. Their gas collection system is working efficiently and safely, they say.

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