By DENISE DICKand PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A city health official wants the gates at a construction and demolition debris landfill to be locked when no one from the company is around.
A citation the city issued to Warren Recycling Inc. last week stems from its gates' being left open. The city initially had intended to cite the operation because the facility was left unmanned.
Robert Pinti, deputy city health commissioner, received a call last weekend from members of Our Lives Count, a citizens group formed because of concerns surrounding the company. Group members reported truck drivers' unlocking gates of the facility, which also operates a solid waste transfer station at the site.
The gates had been left open when Pinti arrived.
Another truck driver with a key arrived while Pinti was at the site. The trucks were taking solid waste to the transfer station. The waste then is transferred to another facility.
Group members worried that, with no one supervising what's coming in, anything could be coming into the facility and nothing was preventing prohibited items from going into the landfill.
Initially city officials planned to cite the company for not having an employee working while waste was being brought in. But Pinti said state law, which restricts access to authorized personnel, doesn't clearly define what a certified operator is.
The company determines who is authorized and is ultimately responsible for what comes into the facility.
The company is being cited because the gate was left open, Pinti said.
"I want the property secure 24 hours a day," he said.
Pinti also recommended that the company have company personnel on-site when items are coming into the facility, but he says he can't order it. He said the company has complied with his recommendations in the past.
"I don't want to see an incident like that again," he said.
Warren Recycling officials couldn't be reached and have previously declined to comment.
Violations typically don't carry local or state penalties. The information is put in the company's file, they are ordered to correct it, and the Environmental Protection Agency is notified and keeps the information on file. A fine may apply if it's a criminal violation.
This isn't the first time the company has been cited. A review of the inspections at the site by the city health department shows eight violations and citations recorded this year.
A March inspection checklist shows the facility was noncompliant by creating a nuisance or health hazard. It refers to tires at the site that provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It also tells the company to eliminate ponding where access roads were being constructed.
An April inspection checklist cites the company for creating a nuisance or health hazard. The form refers to the odor of hydrogen sulfide that city and Leavittsburg residents have been complaining about.
The state health department and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are conducting an assessment in the area to try to determine if the odor presents a health risk, and where it may be coming from.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the city health department reviewed the site in May. OEPA wrote in a letter accompanying the checklist that Warren Recycling accepted "prohibited waste" including a "large volume of solid waste and material that was not identifiable as construction and demolition debris."
The waste included car seats, mattresses, shredded paper, scrap tires, a soccer ball, basketball, plastic bottles, clothes, an empty 55-gallon drum and other items.
Daily logs not completed
The company also was cited for not completing daily logs of operations as required by the OEPA. "Warren Recycling did not complete the section stating whether the waste loads were accepted or rejected," the OEPA letter said.
The company was cited again in June for accepting solid waste that's not authorized including tires, pop bottles and two bicycles. Health department officials said that's not considered a serious violation.
Warren Recycling Inc. was fined $99,000 last year after being convicted of dumping wood products without the proper license. The company was convicted of a misdemeanor count of criminal damaging.
County prosecutors said the company dumped wood that came from a cabinet manufacturer, not from a construction or demolition site. Prosecutors said if the wood is coming from an industrial process, it is solid waste.
Warren Recycling has a landfill permit for construction and demolition debris, but it does not have a solid waste permit to dump manufacturers' waste, attorney general's office officials have said.
The company was ordered to pay OEPA $50,000 for the cost of the prosecution of the case, $25,000 to the Ohio Attorney General's Office and $12,000 to the county prosecutor's office.
The judge also ordered the company to pay $12,000 to a local charity.
Two Warren Recycling employees also pleaded guilty in January in that case.
Richard B. Jones, 44, of Parkman Road and Anthony DiCenso III, 38, of Fairway Drive pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of criminal damaging. Each received a 90-day suspended jail sentence, a $750 fine and one year's probation, and were ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
Both men were placed on probation for one year in January. However, Keith Evans, director of the county probation department, said both men were off probation in April.
"I was not made aware of any civil or criminal violations," Evans said. "These were misdemeanor charges, they were both first-time offenders, and I had no problem with them at all."