Environmental Protection

Firm Files Suit Involving Landfill Odors in Ohio

Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., Steven D. Bell Co., and Kennedy & Madonna on Oct. 8 filed an environmental lawsuit against Republic Services of Ohio and Waste Management of Ohio on behalf of more than 600 citizens in Bolivar, Ohio and surrounding communities.

This legal action is prompted by the horrific odors and toxic emissions emanating from the defendants' Countywide Recycling and Disposal Landfill that has impaired quality of life, devalued property, and threatened the health of residents in both Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

"The residents in this community have suffered tremendously at the hands of the landfill operator, which has operated this landfill with wanton disregard for the health and welfare of its neighbors," said Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental Toxic Torts unit at Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.

The three-count complaint (docket # 2008 CT 10 0741) seeks compensatory and punitive damages for property devaluation, interference with use and enjoyment of property, and medical screening and monitoring. It alleges the defendants negligently exposed local families to hazardous substances and noxious odors by failing to prevent potentially harmful emissions from migrating off the landfill site and into residential areas.

Since 2006, Countywide Landfill has emitted intensely foul odors, as well as experienced an increased flow of waste. In response to hundreds of citizen complaints, the director of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency declared the landfill a "public nuisance" and ordered Republic to correct the problem. Despite urgent calls by the state agency, the federal EPA and health officials, and thousands of complaints later, the odor persists to this day, causing nausea, significantly reducing the value of homes, and making the simple, enjoyable act of breathing fresh air impossible.

The odor is in part a result of Countywide's dangerous practice of accepting large quantities of aluminum dross/saltcake, which is hazardous when mixed with water-based liquids. The resulting reaction creates repugnant odors and excessive heat. Despite knowledge of this potential danger, Countywide recirculated leachate. The combination of leachate and aluminum waste at the landfill created an explosive situation that started subsurface fires at the landfill.

"The filing of this lawsuit is the beginning of the process by which the people in Stark and Tuscarawas County who have been affected by the Countywide Landfill will receive full and fair compensation for the damages they have suffered," said Steven D. Bell, founder of the Ohio law firm Steven D. Bell Co.

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