Living by a porta potty plant really stinks. And, what’s more, it can be hazardous to one’s health and bring down property values. Four neighbors filed a lawsuit against Northwest Cascade and the company’s Honey Bucket and FloHawks divisions claiming odors, gases and fumes caused unbearable headaches, irritated their asthma and devalued their homes.
Northwest Cascade heads a wastewater-treatment plant and cleaning station for Honey Buckets, which are porta potty units. Pumper trucks extract the contents of the Honey Buckets and transport the waste to the property. The sewage is then pressed into biosolids and used for agricultural and landscaping needs. Any remaining wastewater is sent to the King County Wastewater Treatment system, and the units are taken to the Pacific facility where they are power washed and stored for future use.
On Wednesday, September 27th, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Helen Whitener certified the case as a class action, allowing additional residents to join. This could mean others from the approximately 40 lots in the neighborhood decide to take action. The Honey Bucket operation has been expanding since its inception in 2014 and neighbors have smelled sewage.
“Sometimes the smell is so heavy it engulfs your home, whether your windows are open or not. And it’s just really difficult to live in this environment now,” said Samantha Niemi, a mother who lives in the neighborhood. She is worried about the health of her children and others in the area. “When they’re playing outside, they have their shirts over their faces. We’re really scared about the future of the kids in the area,” Niemi said. “My biggest goal in all of this is to literally just have the processors and the trucks removed.”
“I think nobody wants to experience what we experience, even the company or anybody,” resident Ganna Shtogryn, said. “The smell, it’s the same as a porta-potty standing right next to your door. It’s hard to be outside.”
Another resident, Samantha Binder, has a treasure trove of evidence she’s collected for the battle sprawled out in her home. “This is my life,” she said. “My everyday life.”
“The hardest smell we experience is the sewage smell. Plus, we experience chemicals. Sometimes perfumes. Sometimes they mix together, so it’s like different kind of… It depends on what type of operations the company has at the moment,” said plaintiff Anna Shtogryn. “This is like a stressful life because we never know what to expect during the day and during the night.”
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has received complaints about the facility, according to an agency spokesperson who indicated that all of the complaints appear to be focused on odors. The agency issued two violation notices earlier in 2017, but both incidences were either dismissed or resolved.
Porta potty use has been linked to life-threatening infections, including norovirsus, salmonella, Shigellosis, a bacterial infection that causes rectal pain, vomiting and other bowel issues, Hepatitis A and the flu. Just having the facility that close to their neighborhood, has residents concerned with contracting serious illnesses.