Putnam County seeks legal action over wastewater

Putnam County officials are again seeking legal action regarding the dumping of MCHM wastewater into a Hurricane landfill.

In a federal lawsuit, the city of Hurricane and the Putnam County Commission say conditions at the landfill are “jeopardizing the public health, safety, welfare and environment of both the city and the county.”

Filed by attorney Michael Callaghan, the lawsuit asserts the facility isn’t suited to handle MCHM, which is defined by federal law, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to grant relief by making Disposal Service Inc. and Waste Management to inspect the site and address any threats to the public.

After January’s chemical leak at Freedom Industries, the state Department of Environmental Protection ordered Freedom to ship remaining chemicals and contaminated water away from the Elk River site.

The company initially shipped thousands of gallons to its Poca Blending facility in Nitro and later shipped some of the material to the Hurricane landfill.

The site received a special DEP permit to store the waste and the chemical was mixed with sawdust before it was shipped to a lined storage area at the facility.

The lawsuit asserts the commission found out about the dumping after residents living near the landfill reported the licorice odor. The government entities said the landfill operators never told them or the general public about accepting MCHM waste and didn’t provide public notice or an opportunity to comment on the permit.

In March, the city and the commission filed a complaint against the DEP seeking to revoke the wastewater permit. A Kanawha circuit judge dismissed the case, saying there was no issue because Waste Management had agreed to stop accepting wastewater.

Last month, the commission voted to hire Callaghan to take the case to federal court to get the companies to remove waste out of the landfill into a hazardous waste landfill.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman previously told the Charleston Daily Mail that MCHM isn’t classified as hazardous waste under state law. Some federal officials say it doesn’t fall under that category in federal law either.

However, the recent lawsuit asserts crude MCHM was over the 1-part-per-million concentration and is considered hazardous waste under federal law.

In the lawsuit, the government agencies say the landfill isn’t meant to handle waste like MCHM and said when the chemical makes its way to the aeration unit, it could cause the strong odor to pollute the surrounding community.

The lawsuit said Eastman Chemical, the chemical’s manufacturer, recommends the disposal method as incineration.

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at Andrea.Lannom@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.

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