Agency says wood waste burned for months; appeal filed
La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- La Pine City Councilor Mike Shields has appealed an $18,000 fine by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for having an unpermitted solid waste disposal site at his Russell Road property, where wood waste burned for several months last year.
“The waste you accepted and disposed of at your property (such as vehicles, appliances and tires) poses a threat to public health and the environment because it can leach contaminants that pollute ground and surface water, and crate habitat for disease-carrying rodents and insects,” Kieran O’Donnell, manager of the DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, wrote in a Nov. 21 letter informing Shields of the civil penalty.
“Additionally, large piles of wood and other waste can catch fire and be difficult to control and extinguish, as happened with the wood waste that caught fire and burned for months at your property,” O’Donnell added, noting the potential health impacts.
However, the DEQ official also wrote that “DEQ appreciates your efforts to promptly address the violation this spring by cleaning up the majority of the solid waste tires, appliances, vehicles, metals and wood waste, and putting up a gate and sign to prevent additional waste from accumulating.”
“DEQ considered these efforts when determining the amount of civil penalty,” O’Donnell wrote.
The penalty notice said the material disposed of on the site included septic tanks, concrete, asphalt, construction and demolition waste, abandoned vehicles, trailers and vehicle parts, wood waste and yard debris.
It said a 100-by-100-foot and 30-foot-tall pile of wood waste spontaneously combusted around Feb. 13 of last year and “emitted black smoke and noxious odors,” burning until about May 17.
It was one of 17 penalties the DEQ issued in December, totaling more than $308,000 for various environmental violations. The organizations or people are given 20 days from the receipt of the penalty notice to pay the fine or file an appeal seeking a hearing.
A DEQ spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Shields filed an appeal on Dec. 30, requesting a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
NewsChannel 21’s calls and emails to Shields seeking comment were not returned.