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Bridgeton Landfill Owner To Pay More Than $4.6 Million To Neighboring Homeowners

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:30 p.m., Fri., Aug.1, 2014)

A U.S. District Court has finalized a lawsuit settlement between Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services and hundreds of people living near the landfill.

Under the settlement, Republic will pay a total of at least $4.6 million to compensate 947 current and former area residents.

The money is intended to compensate the residents for the foul smells emanating from the Bridgeton Landfill ever since an underground fire started burning there in late 2010.

The plaintiffs include residents of Spanish Village, the Terrisan Reste mobile home park, the Gallatin condominiums and the Carrollton Village apartments.

They will share just over $3.2 million, after subtracting about $1.4 million in attorney's fees and litigation costs.

The funds will be paid per address and divided among individuals who lived there during the designated time period, as follows:

  • Spanish Village: $35,000 an address
  • Terrisan Reste mobile home park: $20,500 an address
  • Gallatin condominiums: $5,250 an address
  • Carrollton Village apartments: $5,250 an address

The class action suit originally included 1,244 people. The remaining plaintiffs have another week to accept the settlement.
Here's our original story, when a preliminary settlement was reached in April:

The owner of the Bridgeton Landfill has agreed to pay almost $6.9 million to about 400 nearby homeowners who had joined a suit contending that the landfill’s odors had damaged their property values.

A federal judge in St. Louis County gave initial approval Thursday to the settlement, which could be divided up among the homeowners as soon as this fall, their lawyers said.

The individual payments will vary, the lawyers said, depending on how close each of the 400 homes is to the landfill and how long the homeowners had resided there. Those eligible for settlement money must have been living in their homes between November 2010 and December 2013.

The lawsuit was filed just over a year ago, during the ongoing controversies surrounding the landfill and neighboring West Lake Landfill. Both are owned by subsidiaries of Republic Services Inc.

“Republic Services put these families in a terrible situation,’’ said lawyer Ted Gianaris in a statement. “By uniting together through a class action lawsuit, we were able to quickly reach a resolution that will give residents some resources to decide how to move forward.”

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has been heavily involved, largely in response to complaints from neighboring homeowners, and is overseeing a separate lawsuit filed by the state. (Gianaris' law firm, Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC, is a major donor to Koster's campaign for governor, donating $100,000 since last summer. The firm is a generous donor to other Missouri Democrats as well.)

Republic has been overseeing various efforts to address the odor problem, including the installation of a cover over the landfill and a "flare system'' aimed at eliminating the odorous gas.  The subsidiary said in a statement that it "has invested more than $100 million in site improvements to date," and noted that Missouri Department of Natural Resources has documented a reduction in the odor problem.

The Bridgeton Landfill’s owners also are grappling with an underground fire, which some residents and critics fear could spread to neighboring West Lake, which has radioactive waste generated by weapon research during World War II.

The Environmental Protection Agency has contracted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a firewall to block spread of the fire to the radioactive material.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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