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L.A. Sues Recycling Center After 22 Million Pounds Of Trash Sat Burning For Six Weeks

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The City of Los Angeles is suing Clean Up America, a recycling plant in Boyle Heights, after a massive pile of trash on the site had caught fire and burned for six weeks, reports the L.A. Times.

According to a release by the city attorney’s office, the pile of trash contained about 22 million pounds of debris, and was stacked as high as 25 feet. This was in direct violation of the rules pertaining to the facility, which is allowed only to store up to 2.8 million pounds of debris in piles no higher than 12 feet. What’s more, the prodigious amounts of trash had blocked off access lanes for firefighters. So, when the pile began smoldering on September 18, firefighters had to battle the blaze from an adjacent property by spraying water over a fence.

According to the Times, firefighters spent a day fighting the initial fire, but needed about a month to fully put out the smoldering pile.

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“The conditions at this facility pose a serious danger to this neighborhood and a health and safety risk to the food processing facilities nearby,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in the release. “We will fight to protect the public and ensure important environmental, health and safety rules are followed."

The lawsuit alleges that Clean Up America had allowed the trash to pile up over two years, which goes over the 15-day period they’re allotted to remove any debris that ends up on their yard. The suit adds that smoke and runoff from fighting the fire may also pose as health risks. This is especially disconcerting when considering the fact that the facility is just a block away from the L.A. River, and is located between two food processing plants.

The suit adds that, after the fire, Clean Up America had offered to clean up the debris, but they couldn’t because their equipment was trapped under the trash.

The city says that, in August, Clean Up America had been issued an order to stop accepting materials. But they were still allegedly accepting debris when the fire started, and was reportedly seen taking in trash as late as December 19.

Deontay Potter, the owner of the facility, was charged with 50 counts related to not having the proper permitting for the plant, as well multiple violations against municipal code. If convicted, Potter could face up to six months in jail.

LAist reached out to Clean Up America, but no one was immediately available to provide comment.