Fair Shake and City of Munroe Falls Finalizes Settlement in Lead Contamination Lawsuit

Munroe Falls, OH – Last week, Munroe Falls resident Tom Shubert reached a settlement with the cities of Munroe Falls, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge, and the Village of Silver Lake related to lead contamination at Munroe Falls’ outdoor firing range.

Shubert and the other involved parties have agreed that the firing range will no longer be allowed to operate. Additionally, each of the settling communities has entered into a cost-sharing agreement in order to conduct an environmental assessment and engage in any necessary clean-up work. Shubert notified cit y officials of his intent to sue after research and public record reviews indicated the potential for significant lead contamination on the firing range.

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“Tom’s unwillingness to tolerate any further pollution is what sparked the discussions that lead to this settlement,” said Andrew Karas, Shubert’s attorney of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services. “His fight for a safe environment benefits all people who make use of the area, whether they be kayakers on the Cuyahoga, bikers on the Metroparks trail, visitors to the downtown heart of Munroe Falls, or downstream residents simply enjoying their backyards.”

“We also appreciate the involved communities for making the resolution of this dispute an amicable one. In particular, the leadership of Munroe Falls in organizing a cooperative resolution between all communities is to be commended.”

In June 2018, Shubert sent a letter to city officials in the neighboring communities of Munroe Falls, Cuyahoga Falls, Sliver Lake, Stow and Tallmadge about his intent to file suit for violating state and federal environmental laws. According to the letter, the city failed to institute appropriate preventative measures or to conduct necessary periodic clean-up, resulting in the migration of lead into the environment in violation of Ohio’s solid waste management laws, the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The firing range was used by the Munroe Falls police department, as well as the police departments of the neighboring cities, for firearms training. During such training, lead contained in spent ammunition would get deposited into the ground, potentially causing contamination of the onsite soil, groundwater, and stream as well as the adjacent Cuyahoga River.

“All across the country, ranges like these all too often operate without any regular schedule for clean-up or any other management practices, leaving lead to seep from these facilities into our soil, our groundwater, and into our streams and rivers,” Karas said.

Karas also commented on how people are increasingly coming to appreciate the extensive dangers posed by environmental lead and the lack of government responsibility leads to incidents like the lead water poisoning of Flint, Michigan.

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services is a nonprofit environmental law firm that believes that the legal system is unfair, and we want to do something about. People of modest means are facing environmental risks at a disproportionate rate, yet they often lack a seat at the decision-making table. We work with individuals, community groups, environmental organizations, farmers, and land owners to give them a fair shake.