Hurricane landfill case settled

By Chris Dickerson | Apr 23, 2015

WINFIELD – A lawsuit filed over chemicals accepted at a Putnam County landfill officially has been settled.


WINFIELD – A lawsuit filed over chemicals accepted at a Putnam County landfill officially has been settled.

The agreement, announced Thursday, calls for Disposal Services Inc. and Waste Management to pay the Putnam County Commission and the City of Hurricane about $600,000 for legal fees and other costs associated with the lawsuit.

The governments filed the lawsuit last year after the companies accepted thousands of gallons of chemicals from Freedom Industries in the wake of last January’s spill that contaminated the water of more than 300,000 residents in nine West Virginia counties.

DSI operates the landfill that is located near the Putnam border with Lincoln County.

The agreement also includes monitoring for the chemical MCHM at the landfill every six months for five years. If it is detected, the landfill would stop its aeration process and leachate discharge that flows into Hurricane’s water treatment plant.

In the original complaint, the governments sued DSI and WM after the landfill took in as much as 40,000 of crude MCHM and other chemicals from Freedom Industries. The governments said the landfill could not properly handle the chemicals, and they wanted to force the landfill to remove the material.

“After more than a year of negotiating and seeking a resolution that would accommodate and ensure the interests of all the parties, an agreement has been reached that continues to provide for the protection and safety of the citizens of Hurricane and Putnam County, as well as the environment, while enabling Disposal Services Inc. to continue to provide safe, efficient, and quality disposal services to the community," said Dick Sturges, Area Director of Disposal Operations for Waste Management. “While DSI accepted the Freedom Industries waste with approval from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, we are also cognizant of the sensitivities surrounding this matter.

“We value our relationships with the leaders and citizens in our host communities and have proven that we will go above and beyond what is required to ensure their safety and well-being.”

DSI began receiving the waste water in February 2014, having received a minor modification of its solid waste facility permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, but voluntarily ceased accepting the waste water a few weeks later.

DSI will test both its leachate – the water that drains through and out of the landfill – and the three groundwater monitoring wells that surround the solid waste disposal site, for MCHM every six months for five years. Such testing exceeds state and federal guidelines.

If MCHM above the level of above 120 parts per billion is detected, the settlement requires DSI to notify the city and county, cease sending its leachate to the Hurricane waste water treatment plant and shut down its aeration system, which pretreats the fluid before discharge into the sewer line, within one business day.

“We are very pleased to have a workable agreement with Waste Management and the DSI landfill that protects the health and safety of Putnam County residents,” a statement from the Putnam County Commission states. “We applaud the company’s willingness to work with Putman County and the City of Hurricane to reach this agreement with no expense to the taxpayers.

“We are satisfied that DSI and Waste Management will continue to monitor what comes out of the landfill.”

The settlement also resolves a case before the state Public Service Commission regarding the costs of discharge and treatment of leachate from the DSI Landfill to the Hurricane waste water treatment plant.

“The city is pleased to work with Waste Management and DSI to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Hurricane and Putnam County,” Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said in a statement. “The City of Hurricane's goal in filing this legal action was to ensure the long-term health and safety of the area's residents and to attempt to isolate the environment and watershed from any additional impacts from the MHCM disposal.

“I feel confident through this collaboration between the city, the county and Waste Management and DSI, the necessary safeguards will be followed to accomplish these goals.”

In the original complaint, the governments sued DSI and WM after the landfill took in as much as 40,000 of crude MCHM and other chemicals from Freedom Industries. The governments said the landfill could not properly handle the chemicals, and they wanted to force the landfill to remove the material.

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