ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - Citing violations of Missouri's air, waste and clean water laws, state Attorney General Chris Koster filed suit Wednesday against the owner of a local landfill that has drawn the ire of the surrounding community as of late.
The 8-count indictment alleges Republic Services, Inc, owner of the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill in St. Louis County, violated environmental regulations.
The specific counts are as follows:
1. Causing a public nuisance;
2. Burning solid waste at a sanitary landfill;
3. Causing odor pollution;
4. Exceeding methane gas limits;
5. Causing pollution of waters of the state;
6. Improperly handling hazardous waste;
7. Storing solid waste in a manner that violates the law, creates public nuisance, and adversely affects public health;
8. Natural resource damages and cost recovery.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit to the Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill in November 1985. The landfill, located in the 13500 block of St. Charles Rock Road, stopped accepting waste on December 31, 2004.
Republic Services first reported the possibility of a subsurface fire at the landfill in late December 2010. Since July 2012, people who live and work near the landfill have complained about horrific odors and voiced concerns about potential health threats.
The state began monitoring air quality at the Bridgeton Landfill in August 2012 and discovered acetaldehyde and benzene at levels exceeding EPA regulations. If the levels are allowed to persist, the chemicals can present a threat to human health and the environment.
As part of the lawsuit, the DNR claims a black liquid leachate rose to ground surface levels on at least one occasion in January 2013. Leachate is created when moisture percolates through decomposing waste collected at a landfill and becomes contaminated with bacteria, fungi and other potentially hazardous material. In the case of the Bridgeton Landfill, the leachate seeped into the limestone rock at the bed of the landfill and flowed into the surrounding groundwater. The lawsuit indicates this leachate, when tested, violates the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) under the Missouri Hazard Waste Management Law. The landfill generates approximately 150,000 gallons of liquid leachate per day.
Republic Services is developing a remediation plan and will implement it as soon as possible, Koster said, adding the lawsuit makes certain the company follows through on its promises and that they're legally binding and enforceable in court.
Republic Services released the following statement Wednesday regarding the suit: "We have already started the process of working with the Attorney General as we share the same goal - to dramatically reduce the odor from the landfill while protecting nearby residents and employees, and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations."
Koster said the lawsuit also seeks to ensure Republic Services covers the cost of experts hired by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to perform the required environmental testing, instead of having taxpayers foot the bill.
Republic Services, Inc. is a Delaware corporation that does most of its business in Phoenix, Arizona.