Owner of Business Atop Former Landfill Questions City's Responsibility For Upkeep

Owner of Business Atop Former Landfill Questions City's Responsibility For Upkeep

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Citron Used Auto Parts is a business that's visible right off of West Highway 80 in Odessa and part of it sits on top of a former landfill.

Owner Mark Citron said he bought the property eight years ago and wasn't aware of its history.

"I was so excited about getting the property, I didn't sit there and thoroughly read the deed," he said.

But now the waste has been seeping up out of the ground. And so Citron called up the city for help but they claim it isn't their responsibility.

Public Information Officer for the City of Odessa, Andrea Goodson said this isn't a "carte blanche" or black and white situation because there are so many variables involved.

"It is really a case by case basis for who is responsible for what and for how long," she explained.

In this case, the city claims they've fulfilled all their legal requirements for upkeep. The Texas commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requires five years of maintenance after a landfill's closure and a federal mandate by the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) calls for 30 years of monitoring. But the latter one was established in 1991 for all landfills in the future and those existing at the time. That was well after the landfill in question - on Citron's site - was closed down in the 1970's.

"So based on the EPA's law and TCEQ's state law, the city is no longer liable or required for any post closure monitoring or maintenance," Goodson said.

But still, city workers delivered a courtesy call in the summer. They capped the area in question with a thin layer of caliche. To Citron, that meant that they were acknowledging that it is their responsibility.

"Otherwise they wouldn't have been here with around 100 truckloads of caliche and all the equipment that they had," he said.

But according to Goodson, they had enough caliche on hand that they could dump the load and resolve that issue.

"It was really simply just that, a courtesy, help thy neighbor type of situation," she explained.

Citron countered that it didn't work and evidenced a spot where he got stuck in a tractor soon after it rained. He had already spent thousands on what he claims to be "proper repairs" on the other side of the former landfill. But he said he can't afford to fix the part that the city has started working on. Now Citron just wants them to do right by him and finish the job.  As for the city, they believe landowners could be more responsible.

"I think anytime anyone goes in to purchase property, they need to be aware of the history of the property, and in this case, in the deed transfers, it's noted that it was previously used as a landfill. So it's just doing your research and knowing what you're getting into before you get into it," Goodson said.