There is an editorial in the Panama City News-Herald about the burning Kamax Landfill (incorrectly reported as K-Max) that we previously blogged. While surface fires have been put out, not much has been done to extinguish the subsurface fire that has been burning for more than a week. The owner of the landfill died recently, so the property is currently in probate. The DEQ is claiming that they do not have the authority to come onto the property, except to extinguish the surface fires, which it considers an immediate threat to public safety. The author of the editorial argues that since there has been a health advisory issued that the smoke from the landfill could cause respiratory problems, then the underground fire is a threat to public safety.
Most states recognize a person's right to enjoy their own property free of nuisance. One does not have to be sick, or sustain a permanent physical injury, to have suffered a nuisance by an improperly maintained landfill. In this instance, a nuisance could be the horrible rotten egg odors of hydrogen sulfide, or smoke and other chemical odors from a burning landfill.