In 1995, NELC filed suit against garbage giant Laidlaw Environmental Services for violating the Clean Water Act hundreds of times at its Hilliard, OH, facility. Brought on behalf of the Ohio Public Interest Research Group and the Ohio Environmental Council, our lawsuit focused on Laidlaw’s years of repeated, illegal discharges of heavy metals into the city of Columbus’ sewer system – discharges that ended up in the Scioto River.

Over the course of the litigation, NELC uncovered records and testimony showing that, not only had Laidlaw been violating its permit limits for lead, zinc, and other toxic metals, but that the company had also attempted to conceal those violations by falsifying test results — illegally diluting contaminated wastewater with clean tap water before testing it.

In 1997, NELC reached a settlement with the company mandating installation of permanent wastewater holding tanks and accurate testing protocols. Per the agreement, which was approved by the court as a compulsory consent decree,  any detection of high levels of pollutants triggered retreatment and retesting. The decree further required Laidlaw to pay a $750,000 penalty, $200,000 of which funded a Scioto River Keeper program to identify and clean up other sources of river pollution.