Residents complain about 'obnoxious' smell at plant TTC

September 25, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

There's something rotting in Crofton.

Compost, to be specific, at Top Pro International, a privately owned plant on Cronson Boulevard that processes yard waste for Anne Arundel County.

The county depends on the company because it handles most of Anne Arundel's yard waste, said Susan Combs, recycling projects manager for the Department of Public Works.

Last summer, Crofton residents complained of bad odors coming from the composting plant.

And Barbara Swann, Crofton town manager, said at a civic association meeting last week that the aroma, which many thought was coming from a nearby sewer plant, is "really getting to the point of being obnoxious."

But county health officials say Top Pro has cleaned up its operation since last summer and the complaints have fallen off.

The health department received four complaints about Top Pro between January and August.

On Aug. 19, the department cited the facility for violating county law by creating a nuisance odor.

But the department voided the citation four days later after Buddy Cox, Top Pro's owner, took steps to fix the problem.

"We've had excellent cooperation from the operator," Steven Witt, director of the health department's Division of Community and Environmental Health, said last week. "I know he's trying."

Asked about Top Pro at the civic association meeting last week, Ms. Combs said that she had heard of complaints, but that the problem was resolved after experts advised Top Pro to turn over its compost piles more frequently to inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes odors.

"I'm the first to tell you there was a smell," Mr. Cox conceded Friday.

As a lifelong Crofton resident, he was "very, very concerned," he said, and enlisted the help of experts from the state and the University of Maryland to fix the problem.

"The big problem was the tremendous amount of rain we had" last month, he explained.

The rains produced voluminous quantities of wet grass clippings, and the weather did not allow him to mix the wet clippings with dead leaves quickly enough to prevent an odor.

Mr. Cox said he and his workers learned from the experience.

Ms. Combs said Top Pro's work for the county is important.

Before the county started composting yard waste last fall, she said, it made up about 18 percent of material sent to the landfill.

That was wasteful, she said, because yard waste doesn't need to be contained in a lined, state-of-the-art landfill that is filling quickly.

Ms. Combs said she would continue to monitor the situation.

Mr. Witt said the health department has inspected the plant monthly since January.

Inspectors noticed a slight odor on the site during a recent inspection, but it could not be detected off the plant's property.

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