Comite Pro Rescate de la Salud v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

888 F.2d 180, 20 ELR 20211 (1989)

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Comite Pro Rescate de la Salud v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
888 F.2d 180, 20 ELR 20211 (1989)

Facts

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (the authority) (defendant) owned factories on an industrial park in Puerto Rico. Sewer lines connected the plants to a privately owned sewer line, which was in turn connected to a public sewer line. The public line ran to a publicly owned sewage treatment plant. Only waste from the factories ran through these lines to the plant. Seven individuals and the Comite Pro Rescate de la Salud, a community group (collectively, the citizens) (plaintiffs), sued the authority under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The RCRA regulated disposal of solid waste and authorized the federal government and private citizens to sue to enjoin management of solid waste in ways that prevented imminent and substantial danger to health or the environment. The citizens claimed that the authority’s sewer lines leaked and emitted fumes that endangered their health and that the authority failed to obtain permits and keep records as required by the RCRA. Section 6903(27) excluded domestic sewage from its definition of solid waste. The trial judge dismissed the citizen’s claims on the ground that the term “domestic sewage” in the exception referred to the type of sewage that ordinarily came out of private homes. The court reasoned that the sewage coming out of bathrooms in the factories was thus domestic sewage, even when mixed with industrial waste, and held that the authority’s sewage was exempt from regulation under the RCRA. The citizens appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

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