Farm in Washington State Fined $200,200 for BuryingHazardous Wastes

YAKIMA – After lengthy investigations, the state departments of Ecology and Agriculture have issued penalties totaling $200,200 to a Grandview, Wash., farming partnership for violating dangerous waste and pesticide management laws.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has issued a civil penalty of $165,000 to Double H Farms for illegally burying pesticides, used oil, car batteries and other hazardous waste in violation of the state’s dangerous waste regulations.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has also completed its investigation and is issuing the farm a $35,200 civil penalty for multiple violations of pesticide laws and rules.

In addition to the penalties, Ecology has ordered Double H Farms to investigate six other sites it owns where more waste is suspected to be buried.

In March of 2009, state investigators responded to a tip that used oil and pesticides had been buried in shallow pits at Double H Farms. Using a magnetometer and ground penetrating radar, investigators found the containers buried at two locations on the large farm property at 53 and 1501 Bethany Road near Grandview.

Nearly 200 containers of pesticides, waste oil, and other items were excavated by contractors with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many of the containers, ranging in approximate sizes of 2.5 gallons to 55 gallons, were crushed or punctured and contained various amounts of the pollutants. Some of the containers, as well as lead acid car batteries, were found submerged in the shallow water table 6 to 8 feet below ground.

Sampling results showed that both the adjacent soil and underground water were contaminated. Monitoring wells have been installed at several locations to sample the shallow groundwater and determine if contamination is leaving the cleanup sites.

“This is an unusual and unfortunate situation that unnecessarily puts people and the environment at risk,” said K Seiler, program manager for Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxic Reduction Program. “These hazardous wastes can be properly disposed of or recycled for free – and within a few miles of where they were buried.” Bob Arrington, assistant director of WSDA’s Pesticide Management Division, said: “Farmers are strong supporters of our waste pesticide collections that keep pesticides out of the environment. It’s too bad that the Double H Farms didn’t work with us first for proper disposal.”

Double H Farms has 30 days to pay the Ecology penalty upon receipt or may file an appeal with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board. Under WSDA’s procedures, James T. Hansen, a licensed private applicator, and Double H Farms, have 25 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge to contest the fine.

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