Class action suit filed over landfill odor

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – Bad smells from the Riverview Land Preserve have prompted a class action lawsuit involving area residents.

Detroit-based law firm Macuga, Liddle and Dubin P.C. filed the suit May 31 in Wayne County Circuit Court on behalf of residents of Trenton, Riverview and Woodhaven who say the landfill consistently releases unpleasant odors into the air near their homes.

Steven Liddle, who represents the residents in the $25,000 suit, said the smell is a result of the city’s failure to use “best available control technology” in the for-profit landfill. He denies claims that the smell originated after an April 19th explosion at the landfill’s methane recovery facility, in which one of two turbines exploded. An emergency flare was installed to burn off excess gas and address the odor issue.

“If it was just this explosion, it would have been a day-or-two thing,” Liddle said. “They say ‘OK, now we fixed the problem,’ and the odor complaints start all over again. There’s no question this isn’t related to a one-time event.”

Riverview City Manager Dean Workman declined to comment on the case, as it is still pending, but in a statement called it a “nuisance lawsuit.”

“DTE is working to get both turbines back on line,” the statement said. “It is unfortunate that a handful of residents have engaged this law firm to seek some monetary compensation. The lawsuit will do nothing to hasten the repair of the turbines. In the end the only people that will benefit from this lawsuit will be the plaintiffs’ attorneys.”

Liddle responded, saying the city’s claims that the lawsuit was a “nuisance” were “asinine.”

“Only the government would say, ‘Let me operate this for profit and if I screw up, don’t do anything about it,’” he said.