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Published: Monday, 5/5/2014

North Toledo landfill fire is nearly out, fire and health officials say


The large blaze at a North Toledo landfill that had been spewing several major pollutants of concern into the air, including cancer-causing asbestos, is now nearly out.

Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago said at a news conference today he expected to pull the last of his crews from the scene of Stickney Recycling within a few hours. Officials from other agencies who had been tracking pollutants said their emergency response efforts should be wrapped up today.

The case moves to the courtroom, where a hearing on a permanent injunction is scheduled at 10 a.m. Tuesday before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings.

Eric Zgondzinski, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department community and environmental services director, said his department has an "extensive file" of violations against the site, but declined to elaborate pending the outcome of the hearing, in which the Ohio Attorney General's Office is representing his department and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The site is a construction and demolition-debris landfill and an abestos-waste disposal. Defendants are named as Hemisphere Ltd, Stickney West C & DD LLC, Stansley Mineral Resources, and Stickney Holdings LLC.

Authorities said a fire may have been smoldering for more than two weeks before it evolved into a large blaze Friday.

Betsy Nightingale, on-scene coordinator for the U.S.EPA's emergency response branch, said results from the first round of air tests did not show dangerous levels of asbestos or other major pollutants in the air, although she agreed it only takes a few tiny asbestos fibers to cause permanent lung damage.

Mr. Zgondzinski and others said prevailing winds appeared to blow the worst pollutants away from residential areas.

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