City to Pay for Compost Site Clean Up

City Council voted Oct. 15 to spend $300,000 to clean up Compost Cincy, a former Winton Hills composting company created in 2012 with the help of the city’s Office of Environment and Sustainability.

City Council voted Oct. 15 to spend $300,000 to clean up Compost Cincy, a former Winton Hills composting company created in 2012 with the help of the city’s Office of Environment and Sustainability.

Neighbors of the site have complained for the past year of unbearable odors. The company closed its doors in October 2013, but the smell remains, the result of more than 80,000 tons of refuse.

Since 2012, Compost Cincy accumulated 45 code violations from the city and two EPA citations. The OES will cover $220,000 of the cost of clean up, with another $80,000 coming from the city contingency account.

Composting takes food waste and, by rotating it and controlling its decomposition, converts it into soil. A number of cities, including Portland, Ore., Seattle and Boulder, Colo., have programs. If composting isn’t done correctly, though, allowing for the correct mixture of air to reach the refuse, things can go sour quickly.

Mayor John Cranley pinned a good deal of the blame for the project’s failure on the city office.

“The origin of this entire organization is to combat odor,” Cranley said during an Oct. 15 City Council meeting. “So it’s pretty embarrassing that it was this office that came up with this compost mess in the first place.”

The official mission of the OES goes beyond odor control. The office is charged with leading sustainability efforts in the city.

“I want to stick up for the Office of Environment because I don’t think it’s their fault,” City Councilman Chris Seelbach said at the meeting. “Composting is something that there is a large demand for.”

Council voted 9-0 to fund the cleanup.

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