COLORADO, USA — The idea that a Colorado county is a “person” under the state's solid waste law ran into resistance among some Supreme Court members on Wednesday, as the justices heard oral arguments over whether the state health department could force La Plata County to clean up a toxic landfill site.
>> The video above is about how CU tested wastewater to detect COVID outbreaks. The same system could detect other viruses, too.
“I have a lot of concern about how a county is an association of persons, I’ll tell you straight up,” said Justice Richard L. Gabriel at the outset.
La Plata County owns a solid waste disposal site in Bayfield that was built in the 1950s and shut down in 1994. Since 2004, groundwater at the landfill has contained levels of vinyl chloride, a gas that is associated with increased cancer risk, that exceeds the legal limit. The county and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) worked together to clean up the site until 2016.
That year, CDPHE issued a compliance order that would have allegedly cost the county $1 million on cleanup that the locality viewed as unnecessary. La Plata County turned to the courts, arguing that the Solid Waste Act only allows for compliance orders directed at “any solid wastes disposal site and facility or any person,” and that a person is, among other things, an individual, municipality or “association of persons.”
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