Ohio Attorney General Sues Vinton County Company Over Creek Pollution

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio’s attorney general is suing a Vinton County sanitation company, accusing it of illegally dumping so much sewage and grease into a field that it polluted several miles of a nearby creek.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims that A2Z Sanitation dumped twice as much waste into the field than is allowed under its permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. This liquid blend of sewage and grease seeped into Raccoon Creek.

The waste turned the water red with bacterial contamination in some areas. Floating grease deposits were found eight miles downstream. The pollution depleted oxygen levels in parts of the creek, threatening fish and other aquatic life.

The scope of the contamination indicated the waste seepage was not a one-time event but instead had been ongoing, according to court documents.

Along with the lawsuit, the attorney general also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, asking the court to immediately order A2Z to stop accepting any waste at the site and come up with a plan to prevent continued seepage from the waste-saturated field into the creek.

A hearing on this motion is scheduled for Monday in the Vinton County Court of Common Pleas.

WOUB contacted A2Z Sanitation for comment but has not yet received a response.

The legal action was taken at the request of the Ohio EPA, which became aware of the pollution through a complaint made in early June. The agency has been working with A2Z since then to clean up the creek and prevent further contamination. But last week an inspector with the agency found that conditions at the site still posed a significant risk of continued waste seepage, according to court documents.

The lawsuit notes that 20 years ago Raccoon Creek was so polluted from acid mine drainage it was essentially dead. Nearly $20 million has been spent over the past two decades to restore the creek. It is now a warm water habitat, with 40 miles designated as an exceptional warm water habitat.

The lawsuit claims that “A2Z Sanitation’s careless land application undid much of that work in a short period of time.”

A2Z, which is based in McArthur, offers several services, including septic tank cleaning, portable toilet rentals, and cleaning out grease traps at restaurants and other businesses that prepare food.

It was granted a permit in October 2019 to spread this waste on a 50-acre field along Route 328 in New Plymouth in Vinton County. The field is adjacent to Raccoon Creek. The permit allowed the company to apply up to 1.25 million gallons of waste a year over the entire 50 acres. According to court documents, A2Z’s records show it accepted nearly double that amount from June 2020 to June 2021.

The lawsuit also alleges the company illegally dumped liquid waste in a nearby wooded area not covered under its permit and into a tributary of Raccoon Creek. 

The attorney general is asking through the lawsuit that A2Z be prohibited from accepting and applying more waste until the Ohio EPA gives its approval, that it clean up the existing contamination, and that it pay up to $10,000 a day for any continued illegal waste dumping and discharges into the creek or other public waterways.