Waste360 Quotes Thomas Braun on What Landfill Operators Can Do to Avoid Litigation Over Odor Complaints

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Environmental attorney Thomas Braun was quoted in Waste360 in an article titled “What Landfill Operators Should Know About Nuisance Law,” published January 7, 2021. The article discusses steps landfill operators can take to avoid or prepare for litigation arising from public and private nuisance lawsuits, which are on the rise as disposal sites expand and the inhabitants of housing developments increasingly sited near them object to the odor.

The main defense for an operator that has received a nuisance complaint or is facing charges is to demonstrate it complies with applicable permits and is acting reasonably to control odors. However, not all local and state jurisdictions effectively define what constitutes an odor violation, which has led waste management entities to file lawsuits, including one resolved in favor of a rendering facility in Minnesota over whether a local ordinance lacked objective odor verification standards.

To ensure a nuisance ordinance contains quantifiable standards to determine when an odor violation has occurred, Braun and Stoel Rives suggest landfill operators get involved in the drafting process.

“In addition, we would advise our client to make sure that the measurement process makes sense,” Braun said. “One of the things we would think about is where the measurements should be taken.  At the facility may not make sense if the basis for a nuisance or odor claim stems from the interference with the use of one’s property, which may be located across town.”

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