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Recycled Earth suing client over pollutants in Ogden stormwater system

OGDEN — The probe into the Ogden recycling company that factored in the city’s decision to sever ties with the firm stems from the alleged dumping of unspecified pollutants into Ogden’s stormwater system between February and August this year.

The turn of events has also prompted a lawsuit in 2nd District Court in Ogden.

Recycled Earth, the recycling firm at the center of the issue, is suing Salt Lake City-based Beck’s Sanitation, saying the client company is the source of the pollutants, which possibly include petroleum products. Beck’s Sanitation, the lawsuit charges, offloaded the illicit materials on Recycled Earth grounds unbeknownst to Recycled Earth reps.

Beck’s had reached an agreement with Recycled Earth to dump “process water” at the Ogden business — rainwater from certain types of excavation and construction projects that had gone through a gravel filtration system. Discharge samples tested by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, after it learned of the situation, however, determined the presence of other sorts of materials.

“The samples confirmed that the wastewater defendant had been offloading contained, but was not limited to, grease, petroleum hydrocarbons, concrete washout water and car wash sump waste,” reads the Recycled Earth lawsuit, filed on Oct. 31 and amended last Tuesday. The DEQ is investigating the matter, as reported by the Standard-Examiner earlier this week.

Recycled Earth says the suit is a Tier 3 case, meaning it’s seeking damages of $300,000 or more from Beck’s. Due to the discharges, Recycled Earth will face a bevy of costs to investigate and monitor the pollutants and to respond to likely environmental orders issued by the DEQ and the cities of Ogden and West Haven, the lawsuit reads.

What’s more, the suit goes on, the City of Ogden “has discontinued using Plaintiff’s recycling services and is now using another recycler, resulting in further damages to Plaintiff in the form of lost revenue and injury to reputation.”

Beck’s hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit and the firm didn’t immediately respond to a query Friday seeking comment.

Ogden had an arrangement with Recycled Earth to process recyclables the city collected from Ogden households, but shifted to Wasatch Integrated Waste Management in Layton effective Nov. 3 due to the discharge issue and other concerns with Recycled Earth. The recyclables are collected by city sanitation crews from the blue bins Ogden residents place curbside in front of their homes each week.

Photos Ogden officials placed in a report on the matter that the Ogden City Council discussed during a Nov. 1 work session show the discharges allegedly linked to Recycled Earth that sullied the stormwater system.

But in a statement to the Standard-Examiner, the DEQ didn’t specify what exactly the chemicals may be and said “extensive sampling and analysis” will be needed to determine what remedial action may be needed. The varied information requests by the DEQ and Ogden officials, the DEQ said, will require “in-depth investigation of any potential contamination to the soil, groundwater and the stormwater conveyance system.”

The probe, still ongoing, stemmed from a report in mid-August of “a harsh gasoline-like odor” traced via a stormwater system to Recycled Earth, located in an industrial area of Ogden at 3027 S. Midland Drive, the DEQ said.

The DEQ subsequently learned Recycled Earth had been receiving wastes “in liquid and semi-liquid form for several months” at its Midland Drive operation. “These wastes were not approved, and proper liquids management practices were not in place,” the DEQ statement said.

In its lawsuit, Recycled Earth said Beck’s Sanitation “regularly offloaded” waste at the Ogden operation from Feb. 22 to Aug. 17 this year. Ogden officials informed Recycled Earth reps on Aug. 17 of “a suspicious chemical smell” coming from the Beck’s waste and Recycled Earth reached out to the client company as it looked into the matter.

A Beck’s rep told Recycled Earth it had been “offloading wastewater from car wash sumps waste and industrial operations onto Plaintiff’s Property without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent,” says the lawsuit.

In a statement, Recycled Earth operator David Rawson said the firm is cooperating with environmental investigators.

“We were told it was clean water,” he said of the material coming from Beck’s. The material was handled at Recycled Earth’s concrete crushing yard, not at the business’ recycling center.

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