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Published September 05 2012

West Fargo sues recycling company over emissions

WEST FARGO – The city of West Fargo sued a glass recycling company in civil court on Wednesday, claiming Glass Advantage Inc. hasn’t followed an order to reduce emissions the city declared to be a public nuisance.

Neighboring businesses complained last year about soot, dust and odor emanating from the facility at 230 15th St. N.W., saying it was leaving a dust residue on vehicles and causing headaches and rashes for some of their employees.

The City Commission issued an order Aug. 29, 2011, requiring Glass Advantage to submit a plan within two weeks to take care of the public nuisances.

The lawsuit claims the company hasn’t submitted a plan.

“The gravity and magnitude of the nuisances is increasing daily, requiring immediate corrective action for the protection of the public health,” the lawsuit states.

The city is seeking a permanent injunction to stop the company from using its chimney, as well as an order requiring the company to cease and desist using the chimney or take immediate corrective action.

Hugh Sobolik, the company’s general manager, said new equipment that’s expected to be installed in the next two to four weeks will “definitely” take care of the nuisance issues.

He said he was surprised by the city’s lawsuit, adding he hasn’t heard from city officials in months.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it, and it’s kind of odd that they haven’t been out here and haven’t talked to us,” he said.

Glass Advantage recycles glass by burning labels and breaking the glass down into smaller sizes for use in blasting and cleaning, filters, landscaping, flooring, countertops and other applications.

Sobolik said the company is installing a “classifier” that will remove labels and other material from the glass and clean it before it’s processed. On the back end, a cyclone will remove impurities from the air flow before it reaches the bag filter house and, ultimately, the chimney.

Christopher McShane, one of the city’s two attorneys in the case, said he wasn’t aware of the proposed improvements described by Sobolik.

“The city of West Fargo is simply seeking to enforce its ordinance which prevents foreign materials from infiltrating or leaving the premises that they’re created on,” he said.

Also named as a defendant is WBJ LLC, which owns and rents real estate at 230 15th St. N.W., the lawsuit states.

A complaint and a summons were served on WBJ in January, but the lawsuit wasn’t filed in Cass County District Court until Wednesday.

McShane said the state Health Department was involved with trying to reach a resolution in the matter, “and so far we’re still getting complaints.”

“We were exploring options administratively to try to resolve it, and those haven’t worked so far,” he said.

As for recent contact with Glass Advantage, he said, “I know that there hasn’t been any contact with my office and them directly. We’ve had some contact with their attorney throughout this process.”

Sobolik said he had to spend a lot of time researching what equipment would be needed to reduce emissions, “because nobody does what we do.”

McShane said he received an answer to the lawsuit, but it had not yet been filed in court Wednesday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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