The King George Board of Supervisors wants residents to know that they may experience some odors from the King George Regional Landfill over the next few weeks, as Waste Management drills more wells to collect the gas generated by giant piles of garbage.
Waste Management officials have stressed that the King George facility already installs new gas-collection wells more frequently than state and federal guidelines dictate. But because of recent odor complaints from residents, they're moving up the installation date, said Supervisor Ruby Brabo, who sent out an email alert to residents.
"When the wells are complete, they will result in more gas collection and less chance of offside odors in the future," Brabo said in her alert.
Perhaps King George should consider sending notices to nearby localities, too, for it seems the landfill—one of the largest in the state—is being blamed for smells more than 10 miles away.
On Saturday, the Fredericksburg Police Department sent out the following alert on behalf of the city's fire department. "Please be aware that with the current weather conditions, the noxious outdoor smell that is similar to a gas leak is actually the King George Landfill odor wafting into the city." The alert went on to say that residents who have natural gas service and smell the odor inside should call 911.
The dispatch center received dozens of calls Saturday morning about the smell of gas, said Sarah Kirkpatrick, police department spokeswoman.
City officials checked with folks in Stafford County, who also sent units out in southern Stafford County, sniffing for odors, said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Jones.
"Stafford told our dispatch that the smell was coming from the landfill in King George County," he added.
Later, after discussion between all localities, no one could pinpoint the exact origin of the smell, and a new alert went out, saying the origin could not be determined, Jones said.
City and Stafford officials had been using meters and visiting properties where people complained, to check for levels of gas, but none were identified, Jones said.
As soon as King George officials saw Saturday's alert, they were sure it was not on the nose at all. They checked it out and determined "that it was an inaccurate and unsubstantiated claim," said Supervisor Richard Granger, whose district includes the landfill. "I'm glad they looked into it because it was an untrue statement."
The possibility of smells wafting that far, especially during these wet and foggy days of January, wouldn't surprise King George resident Martha Reynolds.
"It just goes on and on," she said about the smell. "As we're driving around King George, it lingers."
She and her husband have lived off State Route 218, about 3 miles from the landfill, for about 2½ years, and said odors have been particularly strong in recent months. County and Waste Management officials say it's because of record-setting rainfall in 2018; more water creates more leachate, a black, slimy liquid created when waste degrades and rain rinses over it.
Like county and Waste Management officials, Reynolds hopes the new gas-collection wells will do the trick.
"It affects so many people," she said. "Most people are pretty patient, but after a while, we're tired of hearing the excuses. It's kind of like listening to Congress."