Landfill’s fate hinges on fire

Stickney Recycling’s cash flow could be affected


Lawyers are reconvening in Lucas County Common Pleas Court today over the immediate future of Stickney Recycling, the North Toledo construction and demolition debris landfill that caught fire and sent cancer-causing asbestos fibers into the air.

Judge Linda Jennings is to hear from more defense witnesses called by Michael Cyphert, a Cleveland attorney representing the landfill owners and operators. The outcome could affect Stickney Recycling’s cash flow.

A tentative settlement announced in court last week with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office unraveled when company officials insisted on temporary waste storage while a new landfill cell was developed.

Assistant Attorney General Robert Eubanks also told The Blade the agreement fell apart because evidence emerged that the landfill fire, thought to have been snuffed out May 5, appeared to keep burning below its surface.

The fire, which state attorneys have traced back to mid-April, didn’t catch the public’s attention until May 2, when flames kicked up and the threat of asbestos and other airborne contaminants became so great that health officials warned North Toledo residents to stay indoors for three days.

Several witnesses called to the stand Tuesday by Mr. Eubanks said they continued to see evidence of a smoldering fire intermittently through Monday.

Some provided videos and photos to go along with their visual observations.

Those witnesses — inspectors from health and environmental agencies — said they saw streams of smoke rising from the ground and smelled what appeared to be fresh odors.

Judge Jennings also is to decide whether Stickney Recycling is already beyond capacity for waste, and, if not, if it could continue to accept waste shipments while a new landfill cell is built.

Witnesses said the site has room for two additional cells. But inspectors said the waste has been stacked too high and too far horizontally, in violation of the permit.

John Hull, founder and chairman of Hull & Associates Inc., a Toledo engineering firm that designs Stickney Recycling’s landfill cells, said it is hard to determine how much room would be left in the existing cell if material that is out of place is repositioned to where it’s supposed to be.