Waste Management sues to keep New Orleans landfill open

Houston-based Waste Management, owner of the Chef Menteur Landfill outside New Orleans, has filed suit against the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in an attempt to prevent the agency from closing the site. The landfill was hastily established in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to accept debris from storm and flood-ravaged New Orleans.

Since then, it has been the subject of protests from environmental groups and a nearby Vietnamese community, despite DEQ assurances from that the facility posed no health risks and was necessary for the city’s recovery. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin recently announced that he would allow an emergency order authorizing the Chef Menteur Landfill to expire on Aug. 14, removing the landfill’s provisional zoning and effectively forcing the DEQ to close the site.

According to a Waste Management press release, the suit questions the DEQ’s authority to close the site and says that doing so unfairly punishes the company. Further, the suit challenges a city’s jurisdiction in permitting such facilities during official emergencies. Finally, in establishing the landfill, the company claims it was led to believe that the site would be permitted for a considerably longer period and were not aware of the temporary nature of the zoning commissioned by Nagin.