Vindicator Logo

LEAVITTSBURG Group plans to sue landfill

By Denise Dick

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The community has waited long enough, the group leader said.
LEAVITTSBURG -- A citizens group formed to address concerns about a Martin Luther King Avenue landfill plans to file a class-action suit against the facility.
Debbie Roth, president of Our Lives Count, said a handful of people already have signed on. She hopes others will add their names to the list at a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Johnson Community Center, Gilmer Road.
The group is working with a Michigan law firm, Roth said.
"We plan to file it as soon as we get the paperwork together," she said.
Paul Barley, operations manager at Warren Hills, the company that manages the facility, declined to comment.
Representatives of the citizens group, the company, U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies and Warren and Trumbull County health departments met Thursday in the first of what's expected to be a series of meetings aimed at improving communication among the parties.
The company is operating under a consent agreement with the Ohio attorney general's office. The agreement was to settle a violation against the company for accepting solid waste. Warren Hills operates a construction and demolition debris landfill.
Residents who live near the landfill have been complaining for years about a rotten egg stench from hydrogen sulfide gas coming from it.
"People are getting sicker out here," Roth said.
Warren Hills has been managing the facility for about a year. Before that, it was run by Warren Recycling Inc.
But at Thursday's meeting, company officials acknowledged they may not continue to operate because of an Ohio EPA decision that limits their revenue. The company had sought a change in its permit that would have allowed the landfill to accept more waste.
OEPA's director has recommended that change not be granted. The company has until month's end to appeal it.
Addressing the odor
The company has pointed to installation of groundwater monitoring systems, elimination of leachate ponds and other improvements to show its attempts to address the odor.
Roth said residents aren't realizing any difference, however.
An OEPA report mapped out the area bordered by Market Street, Martin Luther King, Risher and Leavitt roads as the area where the odor was emanating. The map was devised using complaint calls and wind direction data.
Roth said the group has waited to pursue legal action, hoping the company and enforcement authorities would address the problem.
"This is not a gold-digging expedition," she said.
Group members believe they've given the company ample time and opportunity to fix the odor.
"The officers and the board of Our Lives Count are going to do what we have to do to make the community better -- to make it safe for our kids to go to school and to make it safe to live here," Roth said.