The plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits filed against the Jefferson Parish landfill are asking a judge to give them immediate access to the Waggaman site in order to conduct their own environmental testing, court records show.

According to the motion, filed Dec. 20 in 24th Judicial District Court, ongoing attempts to improve the landfill's gas and liquid collection systems could remove crucial evidence the roughly 80 plaintiffs need to make their case.

The suit, which was filed earlier this month by attorney Eliza James, is just one of several that target the parish's dump, which has been blamed for noxious odors that have plagued residents in Harahan, River Ridge and Waggaman for months. Unlike other suits, however, this one does not seek class-action status.

"Absent a prompt opportunity to inspect and sample at the landfill, petitioners will lose the opportunity to obtain the most pertinent site-specific information that would help establish what has transpired over the last year and how those conditions affected petitioners," the new motion says. Not allowing such inspections would cause "irreparable harm" to the case, it says.

The plaintiffs have hired Maryland-based environmental scientist Paul Chrostowski to conduct the proposed testing.

In an affidavit attached to the motion, Chrostowski argues that despite numerous tests by the parish and the state, there has been no "comprehensive analysis" of the gases generated by the landfill. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, he says, looked for only a "limited" subset of chemicals during its testing of the air around the dump. 

"This limited sampling and analysis ... is not nearly sufficient," Chrostowski said.

The lawsuit is just one in a series of legal salvos fired at the landfill, which has been identified as the likely main source of the smells that have angered residents. Those complaints led to inspections of the landfill's gas and liquid collection systems, both of which were found to have serious problems.

In July, Parish President Mike Yenni and Councilman Paul Johnston — whose district includes Harahan, where many of the complaints originated — acknowledged that the landfill's systems were not operating properly.

DEQ Secretary Chuck Carr Brown told the Parish Council in early December that he was certain the landfill is the primary source of the odors.

At least three other suits have been filed and are seeking class-action status. Those suits are currently mired in disputes over whether they belong in state or federal court.

The suit filed by James has been assigned to 24th Judicial District Judge Steven Grefer; no hearing date has been set.

Contractor at Jefferson Parish landfill accuses DEQ of bias in blaming odors on the landfill

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.