Authorities raid East Cleveland building connected to troubled Arco recycling site

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - Authorities raided Thursday morning a building connected to one of the owners of a controversial recycling center in East Cleveland.

According to a spokesperson from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, members of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on 14925 Elderwood Avenue, East Cleveland.

The property belongs to George Michael Riley. 

Riley is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the State of Ohio against Arco Recycling, 1705 Noble Road, according to court documents.

The document states Riley:

"Endangered the environment and the community of East Cleveland by allowing over 200,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris (C&DD) to be unlawfully disposed on real property located at 1705 Noble Road in East Cleveland, Ohio (the Arco Site). Defendants actions have resulted in a pile of C&DD rising over the homes that are merely yards away from the piles. Without the protections afforded by obtaining a license to dispose of C&DD, there is no way to ensure that this pile of debris has not caused, and is not currently causing, environmental harm."

Earlier this year the EPA issued violations against the site and it was closed down.

The most recent incident involving the Arco site occurred this week when it caught fire Saturday morning.

On Oct. 28, the site ignited from heat generated by decomposing wood, concrete and other debris dumped there over the past three years, according to officials.

Court documents state that between June 24, 2014, and January 2017 "little, if any of the construction and demolition debris that was brought onto the Arco site was ever removed to be returned to commerce or to be properly disposed of."

Officials said the pile of debris towers over the neighborhood — standing about 5-stories high and seven acres long.

Firefighters worked for several days to battle hot spots and flare-ups that continued to emerge from the rubble.

Officials wouldn't comment on what type of evidence was gathered from the Elderwood Avenue building, but investigators could be seen coming and going from the building throughout the day.

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