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Judge Rules In Favor Of Glendale Over Trash-To-Energy Lawsuit

A view of Glendale's landfill.
(Courtesy of Sue Breding - Glendale)
A view of Glendale's landfill.

Glendale has been embroiled in a years-long lawsuit over a recycling facility that was supposed to divert trash and turn it into energy.

A judge recently ruled in favor of the city, saying Glendale’s 2012 agreement with the recycling facility did not require the city to alter the waste it sent the company.

The facility brought a $200 million claim against the city, saying its production was stalled due to yard waste in the trash.

The business, Vieste, was supposed to sell the energy produced by Glendale’s garbage but that never happened.

Glendale assistant city attorney Nancy Mangone said the judge decided Vieste never met its part of the contract after refusing 300 loads of city trash.

“Rejecting all of those loads was not acting in good faith," Mangone explained. "And so the judge said 'you really didn’t come into commercial operation,' a defined term in the contract.”

Vieste lawyer Rob Carey says the company will appeal the decision.

“One thing that’s going to be clear when we get to the court of appeals is that it’s a very ambiguous contract," he said. There [are] terms that are used inconsistently and it’s a mess.”

Pre-sorting trash before going to the recycling facility is an expensive and difficult process, according to Mangone.

“All we agreed to do was provide you with our normal municipal solid waste," she said. "And yes, as everybody knows, normal municipal solid waste contains some amount of yard waste.”

Carey says the future of Vieste’s trash-to-energy facility is up in the air.

Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.