Trash hauler cited for illegal dumping in Red Wing
RED WING — A trash hauler was fined Monday night by the Red Wing City Council for dumping "almost two tons of wet, putrescible waste" on a customer's driveway in apparent retaliation for an unpaid bill.
Paul's Industrial Garage , which serves Red Wing and three small Wisconsin cities, was fined $1,800 and ordered to reimburse the city $734.85 for clean-up costs. The Goodhue County Attorney's Office has also requested the name of the driver to issue a misdemeanor citation for unlawful dumping, while P.I.G. manager David Deml will be served with misdemeanor tickets for unlawful dumping and public nuisance.
According to Red Wing Public Works Deputy Director Jeff Schneider, several neighbors called 911 after they observed a P.I.G. employee deposit 1.78 tons of waste and hazardous material from a roll-off container on the driveway of 1622 Greedwood St. at around 4 p.m. June 20. At least one person videotaped the incident, which was cleaned up by city employees the next morning.
"This is, in my opinion, a completely unacceptable public health issue that was done intentionally with complete disregard for public health, welfare and safety of the public," Schneider said.
Red Wing council member Peggy Rehder responded to the scene almost immediately and was appalled by what she saw — and smelled. The driveway was filled with old furniture, garbage bags, carpet, paint cans and other waste that had been in the roll-off the past six weeks.
"I opened my car door … and the smell was incredible," Rehder said during Monday's city council meeting. "This was a very deliberate action that neighbors watched go on. They watched a phone call being made and then garbage being dumped … which threatens the health and safety of the neighborhood. I view this as very serious business."
Deml and Paul Larson, P.I.G.'s owner, did not attend Monday's city council meeting, but they did send a letter attempting to explain the situation.
In the letter read by Schneider, Larson explained that the customer had rented the roll-off but had not paid for it. P.I.G. had been trying to collect for more than six weeks, during which time it claims to have lost $1,485 in potential revenue.
Larson claimed none of the material dumped in the driveway was garbage or hazardous material, which Schneider disputed with visual evidence. Larson also asked that the customer be forced to pay, which "galled" city council president Lisa Bayley.
"This is egregious," councilor Mike Schultz said.
Despite that harsh response, the city declined to issue the maximum fine of $2,000, or suspend or revoke P.I.G.'s waste collection license. Councilor Dean Hove said it was the company's first major transgression in more than a decade.
However, the incident has sparked the desire for a bigger conversation on the use and regulation of roll-offs. Schneider said the Red Wing community has started to use them as open-air garbage cans, which has created health concerns.
It'll likely be discussed at the next city council meeting.
"We see a problem developing here," said Red Wing Public Works Director Rick Moskwa. "It's gone on for awhile. We need to address this."