Trash Talk: Avoid Living Next to a Landfill…

(Photo from Flickr’s freshkills 2030)

Note to readers:  The following does have a Christmas motif (even if a bit jaded.)  And considering these stories have cropped up across the nation, I thought I’d weigh in on how you can protect yourself in a future investment.  Just an early Christmas present from Biddy…


They look so innocuous, those acres of greenery that mound up along any interstate.  They’re giant reservations of open land, and you just might think:  “Well, this is a progressive region.  They’ve kept beautiful stretches of pristine territory, ostensibly for conservation reasons.”

Then you note those white plastic pipes popping up, out of those mounds, at strategic locations, and you know:  It’s a landfill, the exact opposite of clean… prisine… natural.

What’s housed in ‘them thar hills?’ Anything the rest of us don’t want. That’s right, folks–trash.  Tons of it. Much of it will never biodegrade, for products stored there are made of those miracle substances that never decompose…pcp’s, acryllics, plastics, poly-everything. They’re perpetual; as such, they never biodegrade or go away.

Often times, unsuspecting home buyers end up buying property near these underground trash dumps. They just don’t know it ’til it’s too late.  I recall, as a girl, visiting a friend who lived in a beautiful section of our town.  The homes sat on nicely-manicured lawns; they were maintained; it was an upscale neighborhood.  I loved the Dutch colonial near her home that was For Sale and fantasized my family owned it. Then I went to her home on a day the wind blew from another direction, when proximity to the sewer plant became all too obvious, and the beautiful house lost its allure.

The same is true of landfills.  They have a way of changing how one feels about a region, and living near one will affect your bottom line.

I suggest there are ways to protect yourself from a problem you’d never want, for it will impact your home’s saleability to potential buyers, both for the odors that emanate, and the fact they might prove unhealthy.

So, what this former realtor suggests is:  Do diligence when factoring in all components regarding home purchase and pump into your computer browser, “Rhode Island (or whatever state) landfills and dump sites” – is one such website giving answers.


Then, too, check on where Superfund Sites  are in that state.  These are the really scary ones that the government has committed significant money for, to clean up, the ones where pesticides, chemicals, and toxins were dumped. What’s the scare here?  If they’re next to a water supply, this could impact quality of water down the line, since those chemicals leach out of their containers and percolate down into the water table (see the Cincinnati man’s story here included.)

So, be a wise consumer…Check out all aspects of home purchase ahead of time and never leave it to your realtor alone. It’s not a matter of mere aesthetics (tho’ that’s important, too); it’s your family’s health we’re talking about.

Now, this battle about odors presently rages in Rhode Island where a whole community is fighting for its economic life (Who’ll want to buy there, if this situation continues?) The town of Johnston has been for decades the state’s landfill (it takes in refuse from other states, too) and only recently have the noxious odors plagued the region as far away as Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

State authorities have moved to determine the exact cause of the problem, while the town citizenry rail.  After all, a sleuth team to determine what’s fouling the air may take longer than they hope, as they live with the fall-out every day.

Forewarned is a better way to go….If proximity to one might be an issue for you, do your own investigation ahead of time by pumping in “Rhode Island (or any state) landfills and Superfund sites” into your computer browser. It’s all the more important if you’re buying property out of state where you couldn’t possibly know the history of the region you consider.

Just some tips from a realtor…..

Now, click on this You Tube song  created by a Johnston resident entitled “It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Johnston,” spoofing the present situation wherebuy odors from the landfill affect all (this came out a day following the town’s notice they plan to sue the state for the unacceptable situation.) As with all satires, this one makes fun but has a serious intent of focusing on the problem. 

Tell us what you think…Live in Johnston or region nearby?  Are you affected?  And please send this post to any others who might appreciate this information (buying property in future)…Buttons for e-mail are below, as well as Comment button.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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