Mayor orders landfill power plant to shut down

The mayor of Johnston shut down a power plant at the Central Landfill on Tuesday, citing odor and safety issues.

Mayor Joseph Polisena said the town has received 50 to 60 calls in the past few weeks about the smell coming from Broadrock Renewables LLC.

The Broadrock plant takes gas from the landfill and converts it into electricity.

Polisena said the out-of-state company that runs the facility has been "outrageous" in its conduct.

"I'm sick of it, I really am," the mayor said.

Polisena said Broadrock is not doing its job and that it's creating an unsafe environment for residents.

The mayor says the smell is one problem, but the actual plant is another.

Polisena said inspectors found duct tape, a broom handle and rope holding together parts of the facility on a recent inspection. Inspectors also noted a barrel of what they called perfume.

Polisena said residents shouldn't worry the gas will be a hazard while the plant is shut down.

"The gas doesn't automatically permeate out the ground. It has to be vacuumed off the landfill. But it will build up to a saturation point," said Ben Nascenzi, a town building official.

Officials said flare stacks will be used to burn any gas.

A spokesman for Broadrock said in a statement that the company has been working with the town to address its concerns and that the cease-and-desist order was a surprise.

"Broadrock's new collection and treatment system has been working efficiently and safely to collect and process landfill gas. Broadrock is not releasing untreated landfill gas from the new facility into the atmosphere," spokesman Bill Fischer said.

Polisena said he'd like to see Rhode Island Resource Recovery or another private entity be responsible for extricating the gas.

The town of Johnston has sued the landfill over the stench, and last year and the state fined the landfill and Broadrock for failing to take appropriate action.