Ohio EPA will pay $6M clean-up bill after East Cleveland debris pile owners disappear

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will pay $6 million to clean up a toxic dumping site in East Cleveland after massive rubble piled up for more than two years.

The site was run by Arco Recycling, who paid $125,000 for the vacant lot, once part of GE's Nela Park Plant. They opened a business that took in millions of pounds of trash, charged tipping fees to haulers, and left without recycling the stuff.

Taxpayers were left holding the bill for the clean up.

The debris pile backs up to homes on Noble Road and stands more than four stories high. The site actually sits in 108-year-old Arlena LaBon's back yard.

"I been goin' to the doctor with this but there's nothing I can do," she said.

Neighbor Harris Drummonds was suspicious from the start.

"They just totally stacking it up and I believe they gonna' walk away from it and leave taxpayers stuck with the removal," he said.

That is exactly what happened.

In 2015, Arco President Christina Benyon said the debris was not toxic.

"Demolitions of homes in the area and that's pretty much all we take in. We are very particular with what we take into our pile," Benyon previously said.

Jim Riffle was hired by neighbors to see if the claim of it not being toxic was true.

"I came out looking for Methane and I found some hydrogen sulfide gas present in the air around the landfill. Hydrogen sulfide causes issues with eye irritation, throat irritation, it can affect your internal organs," Riffle said.

The EPA did even more complex testing and came up with the same result.

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