Trash transfer station operator Veolia Environmental Services was fined $625 Thursday for odor problems at its Church Street facility in Evanston.
An administrative hearing officer for the city, Susan Brummer, levied the fine based on accusations by neighbors and a city health official about an "unwholesome odor" at the station on June 14.
Despite long-standing complaints about the plant's operation from neighbors who'd like to see it closed, this was believed to be the first fine levied against Veolia in at least the past several years under a city ordinance.
Christina Ferguson, an environmental health specialist with the city, said she received a complaint about the odor around 10 a.m. on June 14, went to the scene and noticed "an unwholesome rotten garbage odor" coming from the transfer station.
Asked to rate the smell on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 the worst, whe said, "It was a 9 at least."
Lindsey Gilreif, who lives in the neighboring Church Street Village townhouses, said, "It smelled, well, besides awful, it was a collection of all sorts of awfulness that was inescapable."
A representative from Veolia at the hearing argued that the city's investigation wasn't rigorous and suggested the smell could have been coming from dumpsters at Church Street Village instead.
Brummer said that while it wasn't an easy decision and that Veolia has tried to work with the community, the accusations were "more likely true than not."
Because it was the company's first offense, she opted to reduce the normal $750 fine to $625.
Top: A garbage truck dumps its load at the transfer station (file photo).