Waste Firm Fined By DEQ

Piles Of Glass And Wood Sat Too Long

Posted: September 2, 2013

HARRISONBURG — A company that runs a Harrisonburg waste facility is being fined by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for failing to reach goals set by DEQ last year, according to a department official.

A consent order signed by Green Earth LLC was posted on the DEQ website last week, with the company agreeing to a $1,300 fine. The fine stems from a 2012 letter of agreement between Green Earth and DEQ stating that a “commingled” glass pile was too big, according to the consent order.

Green Earth, located at 3330 Kratzer Road, is a materials recovery facility that reclaims glass and wood for reuse. The glass pile had plastic and other waste mixed in it, which is also a violation, according to Karen Hensley, the enforcement specialist for DEQ’s Valley Regional Office, based in Harrisonburg.

Green Earth picks up trash from four counties, including Rockingham County but does not store the refuse. It only collects recycling for Rockingham County.

In July 2012, Green Earth signed the letter of agreement stating that the glass pile of about 84,000 tons exceeded DEQ standards, according to the order.

A letter of agreement is not a sanction and initiates a yearlong period in which the company can fix the problem without being fined, Hensley said.

The DEQ requires that 75 percent of materials brought in at a materials recovery facility be used in a year and Green Earth’s glass pile was not in compliance with that proportion, although the company was making progress, Hensley said.

Compared to the 1.93 acres listed on the consent order, the glass pile is 90 percent gone, according to Victoria Simmons, the business’ owner.

“When I look at it and see what I have left to do, we have maybe a month to go on it,” Simmons said

If not for this summer’s steady rain, the glass pile would have been gone. The materials that she’s brought in since the letter of agreement have already been processed, she said.

Simmons said the glass got out of hand after the business accepted large collections from Richmond not long after the business started in 2008.

When the housing bubble burst, she said, the concrete aggregate the company produced from the glass, was no longer in demand, so it was stuck with a mountain of glass.

The order also cited 6,039-cubic-yard pile of wood, mostly from construction materials and brush, that also failed to meet regulations, Simmons said.

“Obviously, since I had a year to get my glass done, I was focused on that and the wood was next,” Simmons said.

To focus on the glass, Green Earth had to rent a better screen to process the glass, she said. To afford the screen, the business sold its wood chipper. Soon after the glass pile is gone, Green Earth will rent a chipper to attack the woodpile.

Hensley said the fine was on the lower side compared to what it could have been. The total possible fine was unavailable Sunday. Green Earth must also provide quarterly reports on both piles starting Jan. 30.“It’s a fairly low penalty and it’s reflective of their good faith effort to date to remove the pile,” Hensley said. “They’ve been working on it while the order was being drafted, so they’ve made significant progress since the inspection.”

After consent orders are posted for public notice on the DEQ website, there is a 30-day period for comment.

“After the 30 days, if there are no issues …  then this would be signed by our director and it would be effective,” Hensley said.

The period ends Sept. 21, at which point the penalty would go into place, Hensley said.

“In the big picture, it’s not ever good to get a fine, but [the DEQ was] really more than fair,” Simmons said.

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or arohr@dnronline.com

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