Former Football Star Threatens Health, Environment

Football fans who are old enough may remember No. 34 Andy Russell of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who played as an outside linebacker between 1966 and 1976. A member of Pittsburgh’s legendary “Steel Curtain” defensive line, Russell played in two consecutive Super Bowl Games (IX and X) and was named MVP in 1971. Now 65 years of age, Russell is vice-president of A&L Salvage, LLC, of Lisbon, Ohio. He and his company have run afoul of local environmental authorities. Although his company’s landfill, located 55 miles west of Pittsburgh in eastern Ohio, is permitted to accept asbestos waste, that state’s Environmental Protection Agency has cited A&L several times over the past few years for improper handling of the substance. Ohio environmental authorities say that the 42-acre landfill, located on the site of a former strip mine, is being filled with tons of asbestos waste on a daily basis, as well as other toxic chemicals and old building materials. The Ohio EPA has received numerous complaints about the landfill; hydrogen sulfide emissions and other airborne toxins are causing health problems for local residents of Lisbon, Ohio.

Symptoms include headaches and burning eyes, sinus passages and throats. OEPA Director Chris Korleski assured Lisbon residents that if A&L fails to address the problem, he will take action. Last year, A&L was fined $13,000 for four incidents of improper handling and disposal of asbestos waste, in addition to over $56,000 for other environmental violations. According to OEPA spokesman Mike Settles, the current action against Russell’s company is the third in three years. Russell complains that the OEPA was targeting him unfairly. In a written statement, Russell said, “It appears hundreds of hours have been spent trying to nail us… We are dumbfounded by the reception we get from the Ohio EPA.” Russell went on to point out that waste disposal industry experts have praised A&L’s site and operation. So far, the company has spent over $10 million in the landfill, according to management. Meanwhile, the OEPA is recommending that A&L’s license not be renewed. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has also become involved in an attempt to get the company’s compliance with environmental rules so that Russell’s company can continue to operate. If this fails, Korleski has said, “I’ll do what I have to do.