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Published: Tuesday, 5/6/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Health issues averted from burning landfill

Toledo firefighters battle the blaze at Stickney Recycling landfill.
Toledo firefighters battle the blaze at Stickney Recycling landfill.
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Now that thousands of North Toledo residents apparently have gotten past the immediate threat of airborne chemicals from a burning landfill, attention shifts to a courtroom today where a judge will to determine whether to impose permanent restrictions.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings will weigh a request from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to halt more waste from entering Stickney Recycling, 4425 Creekside Ave.

The site is licensed as a landfill for construction and demolition debris.

Eric Zgondzinski, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department community and environmental services director, said at a news conference Monday his agency has assembled an “extensive file” of violations against that site. He declined to elaborate, pending the outcome of today’s hearing.

The judge scheduled the hearing Friday after granting the state’s request for a temporary restraining order against accepting new waste.

The request was made by the health department and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency after the landfill's most recent fire, believed to have been smoldering for more than two weeks, kicked up and shot flames into the air, raising the potential for exposure to asbestos and harsh chemicals.

Officials had advised residents to stay inside.

Monday afternoon, Toledo fire Chief Luis Santiago said his department was expected to wrap up its work at the site that day. Health and environmental agencies tracking the pollution said they finished their work too.

Based on the first round of sample results, it appears residents dodged a bullet, officials said.

The most contaminated part of the plume remained within the landfill site and adjacent industrial land, Mr. Zgondzinski said. Results from Friday’s air sampling came back low or negative for most of the major pollutants likely to be found, said Betsy Nightingale, an on-scene coordinator for U.S. EPA’s emergency response branch.

She said there were high levels of sooty particles. They included the smallest particles, which the U.S. EPA has said are capable of causing permanent lung damage because of how deeply they can be inhaled into lungs.

Asbestos was detected at a concentration of 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter, less than a tenth of what the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifies as its exposure threshold, 0.10 fibers per cubic centimeter, Ms. Nightingale said.

The air samples were drawn from Fire Station 19 and the Jeep property, Ms. Nightingale said. Results on additional tests are pending for asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, planar chlorinated hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds, she said.

Hemisphere Ltd., Stickney West C & DD LLC, Stansley Mineral Resources, and Stickney Holdings LLC are identified in court documents as owners and operators. Their attorney, Erik Wineland, has disputed allegations made in the court filings.

Officials said they expect companies to monitor air quality and have a round-the-clock presence on the site for at least the rest of the week. The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.

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