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Waste company wants lawsuit over West Valley City's notorious smell dismissed

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Posted at 2:52 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 16:54:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A waste company is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by West Valley City over a noxious odor that is plaguing the community.

But in its response, lawyers for E.T. Technologies Inc. essentially argue that while residents may have smelt it, they cannot prove the company dealt it.

"West Valley City is an industrial city in an industrial part of Salt Lake Valley, and the area has multiple landfills, sewage treatment facilities, farms, a copper smelting operation, and other potential sources of industrial odor. There are also natural sources of odor in the area, including the notoriously odorous Farmington Bay and its surrounding playas," wrote E.T. Technologies attorney Melinda Morgan in a motion seeking the lawsuit's dismissal.

"While a city may enforce nuisance law within or near its borders, this lawsuit goes much further. The City singles out one facility, over a mile outside its jurisdiction, and attacks it as a scapegoat for the broadest and vaguest of the City’s alleged ills – as if one facility could possibly be responsible for the reputation or economic development of Utah’s second-largest city."

West Valley City filed the lawsuit last year alleging that E.T. Technologies, which runs an open-air soil regeneration site that processes waste near the Salt Lake County landfill, is behind a foul odor that hits the community when wind and heat conditions are right. FOX 13 has reported on the issue for years now with residents complaining it smells like a "giant soiled diaper" that forces them indoors.

For years, the city has collected complaints from residents and argued that the smell is going so far as to hurt its economic development opportunities.

But E.T. Technologies' attorneys argue West Valley City's anger is misplaced. In the lawsuit response, lawyers said the city ought to be suing Salt Lake County (but it can't because of governmental immunity laws).

"The SRS is on County land; the County owns it; and E.T. runs the SRS for the County’s benefit, with County approval, and under County control pursuant to a contract between the County and E.T. The County is the real party in interest, but is not a party to this suit, and its contractor is not an adequate or proper stand-in," Morgan wrote.

The motion for dismissal also said West Valley City cannot go after them for a nuisance outside its own borders.

"A Utah city cannot enforce the state’s statutory public nuisance law outside its borders, either for abatement or damages, and even if it could, decades-old operations like the SRS are statutorily immune from nuisance actions under Utah’s statute of repose for manufacturing facilities," Morgan wrote.

Lawyers for the city will get to respond to the motion to dismiss. If it prevails in the lawsuit, West Valley City is asking a judge for an injunction to force the company to do more to mitigate the smell and at least $300,000 in damages.