|Clean-up service owner cited for illegal dumping|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
The owner of a local construction site clean-up operation has been given 10 days to abate an illegal dump site on his private property, or run the risk of being fined up to $500 per day, according to Hopkins County Environmental Quality Investigator Holly Rosamond.
The illegal dumping was first brought to Rosamond's attention shortly before noon Wednesday when she received a complaint that dump truck loads of building debris were being unloaded behind a County Road 1103 residence.
Rosamond learned that the refuse contained materials which could be potentially harmful to the ground, air and water system.
"There was tin and metal, brick, lots of wood and insulation," she said. "It was going to be buried. That could cause soil and water contamination, which could result in environmental issues and even birth defects.
"I'm not sure exactly how old the building was, but I do know that a lot of old insulation has asbestos in it," Rosamond added. "I don't know if this did, but insulation is an environmental concern all on its own."
Burning pretreated wood can also set off poisonous contaminants in the air, she added.
Further investigation revealed the material was the debris created when the old Pizza Inn restaurant was torn down Tuesday. The material was being loaded at the site and hauled to County Road 1103, where it was dumped behind a private residence.
Rosamond followed one of the trucks from town to the uncertified dump site, then observed it being emptied into a pit in the ground. She contacted the truck driver, who put her in touch with the owner, who was taken to Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.
"He was advised that the violation for transporting and receiving refuse was a state jail felony offense, punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000," Rosamond explained. "He said he wasn’t aware it was illegal to do this, that it had been his intention to bury the rubble on the property."
Because the incident marks the company's first offense, the business owner was issued an illegal dumping citation. He paid the $200 fine at Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King's office.
Only the owner of the clean-up service was cited; the owners of the Pizza Inn property were not accused of any wrongdoing.
The business owner has until Saturday, Nov. 18, to properly dispose of all the old building equipment at the location. At that time the situation will be reassessed to determine whether further action will be needed by officials.
"If the dump is not cleared after 10 days, he can be assessed a fine up to $500 per day each day that refuse remains at the location," Rosamond said Tuesday evening.
Rosamond praised the caller for reporting the unsightly dump and helped avert what could have been an environmentally damaging situation. She encourages anyone who notices illegal dumping of any kind or who has environmental quality questions to call her at 903-348-0523. If she is unavailable, she asks that callers leave a message and number so she can return their calls.