As part of East Cleveland burns, it’s important to remember what sparked this three years ago (Editorial)

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's been a problem for years, but the situation at the Arco recycling facility in East Cleveland has grown even worse now.

As Paul Orlousky has been reporting for two years, the hideous, smelly pile of construction garbage has made life hard on the people living near the plant, and now stubborn fires have broken out.

The State of Ohio is using tax dollars for a $6 million cleanup, but that brings more risk – because digging up rotting debris and methane pockets could make the immediate situation even worse.

This is leading the people nearby to fear just how toxic the vapor is coming off the fire.

Even in the haze of smoke, gas and garbage, it's easy to see the people have been let down by their elected officials.

Three years ago, it was former East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton and the city council who approved the sale of the land for the Arco plant, earning the city just $125,000 and inheriting a nightmare when the plant closed and the owner disappeared.

Of course, a simple Google search would have informed East Cleveland's elected officials all about owner George Michael Riley.

Riley has a history of leaving others holding the bag.

Riley spent three years in an Ohio prison for theft, grand theft and defrauding creditors.

Citizens have called on Attorney General Mike DeWine for an investigation, which was launched Thursday when deputies raided Riley's business on Elderwood Avenue.

Still, it's like closing a barn door long after the cows have gone, leaving behind a huge, stinky and potentially dangerous mess of filth to clean up.

East Cleveland deserved better.

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