Residents in Ashland County upset about farm approved as human waste dumping site

UPDATE on 4/6/18:  This story has been updated to reflect information from the Ohio EPA after its inspection of the site.

SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- People in a Northeast Ohio farming community say something stinks in their neighborhood, but it's not what you might think. They are upset about a farm that has been approved as a dumping site for human waste.

Ohio EPA inspectors will be out to look at the site on Friday. They are responding to a complaint by Sullivan Township trustees, that it may be a danger to their community's environment. Residents in the area also say they had very little notice that it was coming.

"I'm not happy about it. I don't really want it there; if I can do anything about it, I'm going to," said resident Bonita Casteel.

Casteel looks out at her spacious yard in the Ashland County township, and doesn't like what she now sees in the distance.

"We had no notification from the EPA that this was going to be a dump site, other than after the dump site had already been started," said township trustee Duane Jenkins.

The 69-acre plot of land on County Road 40 is now where treated human waste from the Rocky River wastewater treatment plant is taken. Right now, there's a pile of waste sitting on the site.

"I don't think anybody wants this in their neighborhood, but if something like this is going to be done, it needs to be done correctly. I know piles of it laying around is not correct; it's supposed to be spread out, plowed under immediately," said another trustee, Glen Goff.

"I'm really upset because no one even came out and explained anything to us. Nobody told us they were planning on doing this; we had no idea to protest that we could protest or anything. Like I said, I've known for like 48 hours," said Casteel.

Trustees fear that recent heavy rains may have created runoff that sent some of it into residents' ponds or nearby waterways.

They provided photos showing that the creeks in the area are prone to flooding. "We have a pretty large Amish population out here and the Amish population rely on the safety of the waterways for watering their plants. Their children play in the waterways. They fish and eat what they catch in the waterways," said Jenkins.

"It has pathogens in it; it says right in the EPA stipulation," said another trustee, Doug Campbell.

"I don't know what kind of results it'll have through time. It's going to seep in lakes and there's a creek right over here, right behind those woods there and it drains down that way," Casteel.

FOX 8 on Thursday reached out to the man listed on Ohio EPA documents as the person who farms the land. We have not received a return call.

On Friday, April 6, the Ohio EPA released the following information to FOX 8 News:

"Ohio EPA staff inspected the Sullivan Township location where treated biosolids from Rocky River’s wastewater treatment plant are being staged for land application. Ohio EPA observed no runoff from the biosolids pile, nor signs of previous runoff. The pile on the ground met the setback distance required in Ohio’s rules, and biosolids at the site that are still in the trucks are covered. No odor was detected. No violations were cited. Ohio EPA staff met with the property owner, local officials (EMA, Sheriff’s chief deputy), a couple of neighbors and also updated a township trustee by phone."