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Landfill owners target of lawsuit

YOUNGSTOWN — A Leavittsburg woman has filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the owners of the LaFarge landfill in Lordstown, claiming the landfill has been negligent in preventing dust and noxious odors from wafting onto neighboring lands.

Mary Nagy lives at 998 Center South Road in Leavittsburg about 2 1/2 miles away from the landfill now operated by Lordstown Construction Recovery at Palmyra and Ellsworth Bailey roads.

The lawsuit, which has asked that a class of 100 or more people who live within 3 miles of the landfill be involved in the action, was filed Thursday and seeks more than $5 million in damages.

The case is assigned to U.S. Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the Northern Ohio District Court, who must declare if it is a class-action lawsuit, and court magistrate Amanda M. Knapp. No hearings have been set.

The lawsuit was filed by Nagy’s attorney Daniel Petrov of Shaker Heights.

According to the lawsuit’s allegations, materials deposited into the landfill decompose and generate — among other things — landfill gas, an odorous and offensive byproduct of decomposition that generally consists of hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon dioxide and various odorous compounds. This gas has a high content of hydrogen sulfide, which is known to have characteristic “rotten egg” smell, the complaint states.

The document states Lordstown Construction Recovery has failed to sufficiently “manage, collect, capture and destroy landfill gas generated at its landfill” and thus failed to control its noxious emissions.

The defendant also has failed to properly control the offsite emission of dusts, according to the lawsuit, which generate during the unloading of railroad cars. Other ways dust has not been controlled include insufficient vegetation and improper erosion control, the failure to use tarps on open vehicles and the failure to use enclosed spaces where necessary.

These odors have sparked frequent complaints from nearby residential areas, the complaint states.

Lordstown Construction Recovery has not filed an answer to the complaint.

A spokeswoman for the parent company of the site operations at the Lafarge landfill said she is aware of the lawsuit.

“Though we haven’t yet been officially served, we are in the process of evaluating the allegations. However per our policy, we do not comment on pending litigation,” said Joceylyn M. Gerst, vice president of marketing and communications with Holcim US.

WHAT NEIGHBORS SAY

Nagy describes the odors and dust as “awful,”saying the “stench from the area is carried on air, it comes in through open windows.”

“The dust covers everything in my home and causes allergies,” is how Nagy describes the effect in the lawsuit. “The smell is awful, causing no enjoyment of activities outdoors.”

She said the odor also gives her daughter “instant headaches.”

The complaint states that numerous households in the area — that want to be part of the class action — have contacted Nagy’s lawyer documenting the odors and dust they attribute to the landfill:

• Brandon and Tracy Behnke of Warren reported there is often “skunk-like or rotten smelling odors along with constant dirt and dust.”

• Renee and Christopher Lee of Warren reported: “Depending on which way the breeze is blowing, the smell is so overwhelming (we) have to go inside and close all windows and doors. Dust is a daily occurrence. What are we breathing?”

• Ron and Nancy Ritz of Warren reported: “There are times we cannot sit out or open our windows because of the foul odor.” They said keeping windows open is not an option because of the dust.

• Todd and Judy Wells of Warren reported: “Dust prevents us from opening windows … Odor prevents us from sitting outside …”

According to the lawsuit, the Ohio EPA has issued nine “notices of violation” to Lordstown Construction Recovery — dating back to Feb. 19, 2020 — with the most recent coming Jan. 24, 2022, for the excessive off-site emissions of hydrogen sulfide.

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