Richmond residents deal with foul compost heap

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- Richmond residents have a pungent and perplexing problem that some describe as "garbage and decaying bodies."

"We've had patrols of people going out and sniffing the air at all times of the day and night trying to pinpoint the issue," said Richmond resident Bernadine Riordan.

It turns out that mysterious odor traces back to a compost facility. It's led county health officials to issue a cease and desist order.

"We feel like they are not operating their facility correctly at this point in time," said Environmental Health Director for Contra Costa County. "And we want them to cease bringing in new material. There's still a lot of material on site."

Republic Services processes garbage, recycling and green waste from all over Contra Costa County. Inspectors discovered large piles that weren't maintained properly.

"I'm happy to see that public agencies are taking things under control," said Richmond resident Mark Wallace.

Complaints go beyond the 400 filed for odor. The county knows of seven fires at the facility.

A representative for the company told city council members the order is "unfortunate and unnecessary," according to the Contra Costa Times. Our requests for comment have not been returned.

"When it makes you sick, that's when someone has to be held accountable," said Underwood.

County officials are levying fines and plan to meet with the company next week.
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