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Virginia Office of Attorney General

08/16/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/16/2019 10:37

August 16, 2019 - Herring and DEQ File Suit to Shut Down Illegal Landfill in Greene County

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
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~ Complaint cites repeated violations of the Virginia Waste Management Act, the Solid Waste Management Regulations, and the State Water Control Law ~

GREENE COUNTY(August 16, 2019) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Kenneth R. Collier, Sr. for operating an illegal, unpermitted landfill in Ruckersville, Greene County that has led to significant and repeated violations of Virginia environmental laws.

'This landfill has continued to operate illegally for years while its owner has blatantly ignored multiple violation notices from DEQ,' said Attorney General Herring. 'An illegal, do-it-yourself landfill like this can have serious negative environmental impacts on the surrounding land and water if it is not properly constructed, permitted, and controlled.'

'Ensuring the proper disposal of waste is essential to protecting our environment,' said DEQ Director David K. Paylor. 'We are pleased the OAG is taking action to ensure Mr. Collier complies with solid waste management requirements.'

In the suit, Attorney General Herring alleges that the landfill's very existence is unlawful without a permit, that unpermitted and unlawful industrial activity has taken place on the property, and that operation of the illegal landfill has caused unlawful and unpermitted discharges of stormwater.

The suit was filed after the matter was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, whose staff provided the information upon which the suit is based, including site inspections and two Notices of Violation, which Collier ignored and continues to ignore. According to DEQ, Collier has been operating some form of landfill or waste dump site on his 42 acre property since 1976 and he has continually and knowingly violated Virginia's waste management laws for decades.

The Commonwealth's lawsuit asks the court to order Collier to shut down the illegal landfill, to remove all waste from his property and dispose of it properly, for the maximum allowable civil penalties, and for any other relief that the court believes to be appropriate.

The lawsuit explains that in August 2017, DEQ received a citizen complaint against Collier, alleging that he had been allowing hundreds of dump trucks to deposit solid waste on his property for the last several years. In October 2017, DEQ staff requested to inspect the site but Collier refused. DEQ subsequently requested and received an inspection warrant from the Greene County Circuit Court and inspected the site a few days later. The inspection found a fill area that measured approximately 1.38 acres and was between 12 and 20 feet deep. The fill contained an immense array of waste materials including concrete blocks, structural wood, structural metal, conduit, flooring, stumps, brush, plumbing fixtures, metal sewer piping, insulation, fragmented glass, and broken concrete with significant amounts of rebar protruding. Additionally, the inspectors saw one of Collier's employees actively levelling the waste pile with industrial equipment.

Following the inspection, DEQ issued two Notices of Violation - one informing Collier that he had violated the State Water Control Law and Regulations by performing industrial and land-disturbing activities on the site without a Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit, and the other informing him that he had violated the Virginia Waste Management Act by disposing, treating and storing nonhazardous solid waste on the site without a DEQ permit. Collier ignored both notices and continued to operate the illegal landfill.

DEQ has continued to receive complaints that trucks are continuing to bring debris and trash to Collier's site. In July 2019, DEQ staff went to Collier's site and, from an adjacent property, were able to see that he was continuing to accept brush, discarded vehicles, and other solid waste. They also saw tilled soil, multiple bulldozers, and other evidence that Collier was excavating land on his property without the appropriate permits.

'Collier has continued to ignore the Notices of Violation DEQ issued against him, has not responded to DEQ's requests for information, has not applied for the VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction, and has not applied for any permit that would allow him to dispose, treat, or store solid waste at the site. Nevertheless, he continues to operate his illegal landfill,' said Director Paylor.

In the lawsuit, the Commonwealth alleges three counts of illegal actions by Collier at his unlawful landfill in Greene County:

  • Operating a site as a facility of the disposal of solid waste without a permit from DEQ, which is a violation of the Virginia Waste Management Act and the Virginia Waste Management Regulations.
  • Operating a salvage yard and landfill without an individual or general VPDES permit for the discharge of stormwater from an industrial activity, which is a violation of the State Water Control Law and the Water Board's regulations.
  • Failure to comply with the State Water Control Law and the Water Board's regulations by disturbing land larger than one acre without obtaining coverage under the general VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction.

Additionally, Collier has had many encounters with DEQ over two decades including:

  • In 1994, DEQ discovered that Collier had been disposing of land-clearing debris on the site without a permit from the Virginia Waste Management Board. Collier submitted a plan to correct the noncompliance and DEQ took no further action at the time.
  • In 1998, DEQ discovered that Collier had been disposing of woody waste, construction waste, and demolition debris at the site. DEQ issued a Letter of Noncompliance to Collier. In response, he removed the waste and DEQ took no further action.
  • In 1999, DEQ discovered that Collier had been improperly disposing of woody debris, construction waste, and demolition debris on his land. In response, Collier submitted a plan to properly manage the waste. He then sent documents to DEQ proving that he had properly disposed of the waste on the Site. Once DEQ received these documents they did not take further action.
  • In 2006, DEQ inspected the site and found that Collier had been improperly disposing of auto parts and land-clearing debris. DEQ took informal action and worked with Collier to bring him into compliance with the Virginia Waste Management Law.
  • In 2012, DEQ received a complaint that Collier was improperly receiving woody debris, demolition debris, waste appliances, waste tires, auto parts and fluids. DEQ performed an inspection of the site; however, by the time DEQ staff arrived, Collier was already working to clean up the site so they took no further action.

The lawsuit has been filed in the Circuit Court of Greene County and a copy of the complaint can be found here.

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