Michigan Attorney General sues Washtenaw County landfill for environmental violations

The Michigan Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a Washtenaw County landfill over environmental violations related to air quality issues.

Dana Nessel sued on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Friday, arguing the Arbor Hills Landfill, located in Salem Township had failed to comply with state and federal regulations.

The alleged violations by Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. demonstrated a "blatant disregard for the serious concerns raised by community members and the state," argued Nessel in a statement.

“This site has been a nuisance for years and the potential threat to the health of nearby residents is significant. At this juncture, legal action is clearly a necessity and my office will support EGLE’s enforcement efforts so that our residents’ health and our natural resources are not subjected to the hazardous pollution created by this landfill.”

The company failed to install proper collection and control systems that capture gas produced by debris and trash that gets dumped in the landfill, Nessel alleged. The company also didn't shore up infrastructure designed to mitigate liquid waste that accumulates in landfills - known as leachate - which contaminates groundwater

Complaints about Arbor Hills Landfill's operations extend back to January of 2016 when EGLE began receiving calls about odors coming from the site. An investigation by both EGLE and the Environmental Protection Agency found the emissions to be linked to solid waste in the landfill.

RELATED: Littering on Steroids: Winds blow garbage from Washtenaw landfill into Wayne County

State representatives and senators that cover the area have fielded calls from constituents for years.

“This progress is due to the tireless work of advocates in our community,” said Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth). “Our friends and neighbors stood up to say corporate polluters who willingly contaminate Michigan’s air, water and land for the sake of profit must be held accountable — and I stand with you. I want to thank the Attorney General for joining us in this fight to protect our home.” 

In 2017, residents also complained about excess trash from the site littering the surrounding area. At the time, a Northville Township manager called the case a "littering complaint on steroids."

The first move made by Nessel was to file for injunctive relief in circuit court that requires Advanced Disposal Services to operate its landfill within compliance and to eliminate the odor that residents have complained about. 

You can read the entire complaint here.