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Yakama Nation sues city over landfill site, hazardous waste

October 13, 2020 GMT

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A Native American tribe in Washington state has sued the city of Yakima over a former landfill on city property that is leaking hazardous substances into the land.

The Yakama Nation filed the lawsuit Oct. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

The city used the land near the Yakima River as a solid waste disposal site between 1963 and 1972 until it was shut down by the Yakima County Health Department, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

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The state Department of Ecology conducted subsequent surveys that found leaks of hazardous waste, including heavy oils, lead, arsenic and nitrate.

The department told the city in 2017 that it was liable for the leaks and ordered an action plan the following year specifying how the city should remove the toxic substances.

The lawsuit claims the tribe helped to select a remedial course of action but was not reimbursed by the city for the time and cost associated with that response, which included meeting participation, phone calls and emails costing at least $15,000.

The lawsuit also mentioned that the Yakima River is a fishing location for tribal people that is protected by treaty.

Attorneys for the Yakama Nation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“At this point we are working toward addressing the Nation’s concerns and reaching a resolution that is mutually acceptable to the parties, so would prefer to reserve comment at the present time,” Yakima city attorney Jeff Cutter said, adding that the city could not discuss the pending lawsuit.