Time is up to collect on stinky situation

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW — The time is up for residents to collect settlement money stemming from litigation against the city when excess methane production caused a stink in 2009.

The city settled a class-action lawsuit with Macuga, Liddle & Dubin for the operation of the Riverview Land Preserve Landfill in 2012. The firm sent letters to residents affected by the odor giving them until June 14 to contact their office if they want to share in the money collected.

“I’m just amazed that people in Riverview would take advantage of a situation,” said Mayor Tim Durand at a recent city council meeting when a resident questioned the council about the lawsuit.

Resident Tim Bore received a letter and posed questions about it at a recent city council meeting, such as if a claim would impact his house insurance. Durand and the city attorney told Bore they couldn’t speak in regards to a letter that wasn’t from the city and said he would have to call the opposing attorney.

Durand and other council members said they could talk more about the issue once the deadline passed.

Households in and around the city from Pennsylvania Road to the north, Allen Road to the west, West Road to the south and Fort Street to the east received a letter from the attorney’s office. An estimated 387 addresses received letters and were reportedly affected by the smell.

The law firm gave such residents until June 13 to notify their office to opt out of sharing in the settlement, or until June 14 if they wanted to collect some of the settlement money of approximately $175.

“I think the clients all thought they’d be driving Cadillacs,” Durand said of the residents filing lawsuits. It was a short-term problem and people jumped and took advantage.”

The problem occurred when a DTE Energy’s turbine blew up coupled with the city producing a large amount of methane, it caused the odor.

“We are producing so much methane that what we can’t sell to DTE and what we can’t use for gas for vehicles, we have to flare off,” Durand said.

As part of the $400,000 in improvements the city made to the landfill,
the city is using two flares to ensure the problem doesn’t occur again.

Attorney Laura Sheets reportedly is charged with handling the letters from residents. Sheets did not returned calls to the Sunday Times by press time.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at tnims@bewickpublications.com.)