The Jefferson Parish Council is poised to select a private contractor to oversee operations at its troubled Waggaman landfill, which has become the focus of controversy because of noxious odors invading neighborhoods on both sides of the Mississippi River.

Three firms have submitted their names for the job of "providing oversight and technical assistance" at the parish-owned facility, and the council is scheduled to make its selection at a meeting Wednesday.

The firms are Alabama-based PPM Consultants Inc.Cornerstone Environmental Group, which is headquartered in New York; and Baton Rouge-based Fourrier & de Abreau Engineers.

The firms were evaluated by a seven-member committee that included parish department heads and industry representatives. PPM scored the highest, with 873 points out of a possible 1,015, followed by Cornerstone with 846 and Fourrier & de Abreau with 831. 

Because it is a professional services contract, the council is not required to pick the highest-scoring submission.

A contract with the company will be negotiated after the winner is chosen.

The landfill has been under the supervision of the parish's Environmental Affairs Department director, Mike Lockwood, since the landfill engineer, a parish employee, resigned in July after the problems blamed on the facility became public.

Several other companies are involved in the landfill's operations. 

The general operations contractor is Louisiana Regional Landfill Co., a subsidiary of Texas-based Waste Connections. Parish Council members regularly refer to the subsidiary by its former name, IESI, and IESI is named throughout the current operations contract, which was signed in 2012.

The contractor handling the landfill's gas collection and control system is APTIM Inc., while the company that owns the rights to the collected gas and sends it by pipeline to a nearby chemical plant is Renewable Energy of Jefferson, a subsidiary of River Birch, which operates landfills on either side of the parish-owned facility.

Finally, the contractor currently working on maintenance and repairs at the facility is BLD Services of Kenner.

A lot of its work is focused on fixing the system of pipes that remove the water, known as leachate, that flows through the mounds of buried garbage. It was the deterioration of this system in inactive portions of the landfill that is believed to have created the odor problems.

As the garbage pits fill up with water, the vertical wells designed to remove the gases produced by the decomposing garbage become flooded and can no longer function, and the methane and hydrogen sulfide escape into the air.

The parish and Waste Connections do not agree on who was supposed to be responsible for upkeep of the leachate removal system. The 2012 contract said the system needed to be in working order for at least 30 days before responsibility for it could be turned over to IESI. The company contends the problems with the system predated its arrival and that this standard was never met. The prior contract was held by Waste Management.

Residents in Waggaman, Harahan and River Ridge who have been suffering from the foul odors believed to be coming from the landfill expressed new concern when the parish sent out letters last month to various state agencies and adjacent property owners indicating that it is looking at expanding the landfill.

Lockwood said by email that the parish is in the early stages of applying to the state Department of Environmental Quality to renew the permit for the landfill. He said the reference to expansion is to a "vertical expansion" that would increase the allowed height of the waste after it is covered and capped. It is currently limited to 76 feet.

Whether to allow any additional height would be determined by DEQ based on information yet to be provided by the parish.

"This request is to ensure that the citizens of Jefferson Parish have adequate, economical solid waste disposal for many years in the future," Lockwood said. "Ultimately, the vertical expansion is a DEQ decision. As the process moves forward, DEQ will issue public notices and hold meetings that will solicit comment and input from the public.”

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.