Neighbors in Pacific battle Honey Bucket operation over smell

Four residents claim in a lawsuit that since a portable-toilet operation expanded in their neighborhood, the odors, gases and fumes have exacerbated their asthma, caused headaches and devalued their properties.

We’ve all seen them and maybe even used them — Honey Buckets, the blue, green or gray portable bathrooms at concerts, fairs, parks and construction sites.

Now imagine that sometimes-foul odor lingering in your backyard, your car or even in your bedroom.

That’s what four Pacific residents, who filed a lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court, say they smell since the expansion of a Honey Bucket operation across the street.

“It’s a homeowner’s worst nightmare,” said Samantha Niemi, who lives about 300 feet from the Honey Bucket property. When it’s foggy, you can taste it, she said.

Her 8-year-old son, William, gags when he plays outside, and other children in the West Cedar Glen neighborhood off County Line Road Southwest stretch their shirts over their noses in an attempt to block the smell, Niemi added.

Anna Shtogryn holding her son Jonathan, 7 months, and Samantha Niemi live across the street from the Honey Bucket facility in Pacific. Both families are part of a lawsuit against the company. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

They claim, in their lawsuit against Northwest Cascade and its Honey Bucket and FloHawks divisions, that odors, gases and fumes have exacerbated their asthma, caused headaches and devalued their properties. During a hearing Friday, a Pierce County Superior Court judge reviewed the information and on Sept. 29 will determine if the case will be certified as a class-action lawsuit.

If granted, more than 75 homes located in the same neighborhood could join the suit, limiting their financial costs and procedural burdens on the court.

Northwest Cascade operates a small wastewater-treatment facility and cleaning station for Honey Buckets.

Vacuum pumper trucks suck the contents of the Honey Buckets, wherever they are located, and transport the waste to the property in Pacific, south of Auburn. The sewage is pressed into biosolids that are used for agriculture and landscaping. The remaining partially treated wastewater is sent through the King County Metro Wastewater Treatment system. The toilets are hauled to the Pacific facility, power washed and stored there until needed again.

Anna Shtogryn, another plaintiff who lives next to Niemi, said odors from the…

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