A lawsuit against the Stark County landfill with underground fires and odor problems has been quietly resolved.
The settlement of the lawsuit involving the Countywide Recycling & Disposal Facility in Pike Township contains confidentiality agreements that prevent both sides from talking about the suit that had 600 plaintiffs in southern Stark and northern Tuscarawas counties.
The case had been scheduled to be tried on Monday in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court in New Philadelphia.
But Judge H.F. Inderlied Jr., a retired judge from Geauga County, issued a Feb. 28 order that the case was no longer scheduled because of a settlement.
Brecksville attorney Steven D. Bell, representing the plaintiffs in the case, declined comment.
Jeff Kraus, a spokesman for Republic Services Inc., the Florida-based company that owns and operates the landfill, could not reached for comment.
The suit was originally filed in October 2008 and at the time had about 800 plaintiffs, both individuals and families.
The suit charged that the problems at Countywide “endangered the health, safety and welfare of the plaintiffs, interfered with the use and enjoyment of plaintiffs’ property, reduced the value of their property and businesses and have increased the risk of cancer and other health problems.”
The landfill’s neighbors were seeking unspecified damages for the “unreasonable interference with their use and enjoyment of their property, diminution in the value of their property [and] lost business profits.”
The suit also sought medical screening and monitoring for neighbors.
The problems at the 258-acre landfill began in late 2005 and early 2006 after buried aluminum waste came in contact with landfill liquids. This triggered a chemical reaction with high heat and offensive odors on 88 acres within the landfill and attracted the attention of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio EPA.
The 88-acre tract was isolated and covered with a synthetic liner. Gas extraction wells were also added.
The plan of the two agencies is to allow the reaction to burn itself out, although that may take years. To date, there is little evidence of the reaction slowing, the Ohio EPA reports.
The agency says the landfill’s excessive heat likely compromised the liner, but proving if that happened is almost impossible. There are layers of clay under the liner that probably would prevent problems, and there are groundwater monitoring wells around the site. The agency has no evidence of leakage from the liner.
Republic Services spent $85 million to correct the problems at Countywide. The firm paid a $10 million fine to the Ohio EPA for violations.
The company is using the other 170 acres at Countywide to take trash from Summit and other counties in Northeast Ohio. The landfill sits on 921 acres and is one of the largest in Ohio, taking in about 1,500 tons of refuse daily. It has 100 years of capacity.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.