More than 100 residents of Highlandtown, an East Baltimore neighborhood, sued the city government for $30 million yesterday, citing long-standing problems associated with a nearby city landfill.
The 114 residents complained that the Monument Street landfill had caused their property values to drop, resulted in health problems, increased the risk of cancer and caused emotional distress. They also said that fumes from the landfill had "trespassed" on the air they breathe.
"Our patience has really, really run out," said Margaret Muldowney, head of the Monument Improvement Association and a plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.
Although the landfill operated only from 1973 to 1979, its legacy has been years of controversy, sparked by residents' fears, and by revelations of toxic drums illegally dumped there. Citizens have picketed the site and demanded that the poisonous material be removed.
More than a year ago, public pressure led to the hiring of a team of experts from Princeton University, with all parties agreeing to abide by the results of the team's study. A preliminary report lambasted city administration of the landfill, but concluded that the landfill posed no threat to water supplies.
The researchers cited a potential hazard, however, from toxic fumes escaping through pipes originally placed to vent explosive methane gas, and urged that filters be installed. Richard H. Trainor, deputy director of public works, said yesterday that the city will install filters after it receives the Princeton team's final report, which is due shortly. He declined to comment on the suit.