• Neighbors sue Omya over waste dumping
     | June 27,2005

    PITTSFORD — Chemically treated waste that Omya Inc. is dumping into abandoned quarries threatens drinking water supplies and the nearby Otter Creek, a citizens group alleges in a new lawsuit.

    The 13-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Rutland on Friday by Residents Concerned About Omya says the company's disposal of calcium carbonate tailings is "an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment" in violation of federal and state law.

    The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting Omya, which mines calcium carbonate for use in the paper, paint and other industries, from any further dumping of the waste. It also seeks an investigation into the waste to determine a safe method of disposal.

    "We want Omya to comply with state and federal law, which means stop dumping waste into the quarries," said Patrick Parenteau of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, which is representing the neighbors.

    Parenteau said the lawsuit also seeks to ensure that the now-unpermitted waste goes into a fully certified solid waste disposal facility and that the existing waste is no longer leaching chemicals into the groundwater.

    The Law Clinic warned Omya in November that it would file a lawsuit unless corrective action was taken. The Law Clinic filed a companion lawsuit last year in Superior Court against the state, which is still pending.

    "There has been no response whatsoever from either the Agency (of Natural Resources) or from Omya," Parenteau said.

    James Reddy, Omya execu-tive vice president for North American operations, said he was disappointed by the lawsuit.

    Reddy said recent action by the Legislature, backed by other environmental groups, should have resolved the tailings issue.

    The new law requires Omya to file for a waste disposal permit with the Agency of Natural Resources.

    He said the company continues to disagree with allegations that the plant's tailings pose any health risk.

    "This is done in the other 49 states exactly this way and it's been done in Vermont this way forever," Reddy said. "The groundwater always tests clean; everything is fine is our opinion."

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