Gary, Indiana Receives Lawsuit from U.S. for Landfill Environmental Violations

On Tuesday, Gary, Indiana, a town whose name “as Shakespeare would say, trips along softly on the tongue,” received a complaint in the Northern District of Indiana filed by the United States of America on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claiming that the town breached the Clean Air Act (CAA) because it allowed landfill pollutants into the air.

Reportedly, the town’s Gary Sanitary Landfill has an air permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and is required to maintain a gas collection and control system (GCCS), which is able to adequately handle the air pollution from the waste. The city, according to the complaint, has “never installed an adequate GCCS” and has not maintained its current system causing hazardous air pollutants including methane and volatile organic compounds. It received a permit in 1999, but has not built the GCCS system which was required under the permit. 

The lawsuit was filed under the CAA, which regulates air pollutants through federal and state programs. The complaint cited national emission standards for the alleged hazardous air pollutants and Indiana’s plan for municipal solid waste landfills, which requires cities with a IDEM permit to operate a GCCS, so that the methane concentration above the landfill is “less than 500 parts per million above background.” 

The complaint also lists Title V of the CAA; the EPA reportedly approved Indiana’s operating permit program because it aligned with Title V, however, Gary, Indiana, is reportedly not fulfilling its permit and is breaching Title V causing the U.S. to file the lawsuit against it. 

The plaintiff asked the court to enjoin the city from further violations and require it to “promptly take all steps necessary or appropriate to ensure compliance.” The complaint also asked the court to rule that the city violated its Title V Permit, the Indiana State Plan, and the CAA because it did not install or properly operate a GCCS, did not comply with the required methane emissions standard, and did not properly monitor flares. 

The United States is represented by the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and United States Attorneys for the Northern District of Indiana.