Landfill violations could lead to legal action
By BILL SHEA
Environmental violations at the regional landfill near Fort Dodge that date back as far as 2008 may result in legal action against the agency that manages the site.
The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission is scheduled to consider asking state Attorney General Tom Miller to prosecute the North Central Iowa Regional Solid Waste Agency.
The commission members are expected to vote on referring the agency to Miller for action when they meet on Aug. 20.
However, Steve Kersten, the attorney for the agency, told its executive committee Tuesday evening that he is trying to get that vote postponed until the commission’s September meeting. He said he wants to be able to negotiate with representatives of the commission and the state Department of Natural Resources.
Cindy Turkle, the interim director of the agency, said she believes it has a chance to avoid prosecution because steps have been taken to remedy problems cited by the Department of Natural Resources. However, she said a fine probably will be levied.
Turkle said state environmental regulators have accused the agency of multiple violations between September 2008 and February 2012.
Those violations include dumping trash in areas that were not approved for landfill use.
The agency is also accused of failing to use a system for collecting leachate, which is the liquid that trickles down through the accumulated garbage in the landfill. Such a system is supposed to be used all year, but state inspectors say that wasn’t the case in the landfill on Gypsum Hollow Road.
Turkle said she believes those violations occurred because previous employees of the agency weren’t aware of the rules.
Turkle, who is affiliated with Turkle-Clark Environmental Consulting of Indianola, began serving as the agency’s interim director in April.
She said that since April, the leachate collection system has been running and steps have been taken to control erosion at the landfill. She added that the area of the landfill where garbage is being deposited is now covered every day. Also, storm water runoff controls have been implemented.
The Department of Natural Resources will inspect the landfill and the various improvements by the end of this month, according to Turkle.