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Order Requires Investigation and Cleanup of Spills at Truck Wholesale Salvage Yard in Wellsville, Kan.

Release Date: 10/01/2009
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394, whitley.christopher@epa.gov

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., October 1, 2009) - EPA Region 7 has issued an administrative order against the owner-operators of a Wellsville, Kan., truck salvage business and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). The order requires a series of immediate actions at the facility to address hazardous waste issues and prevent discharges of oil and other pollutants from the site into nearby Rock Creek, which empties into Hillsdale Lake, a drinking water source for Miami County Rural Water District No. 2.

The order, filed today in Kansas City, Kan., relates to the operations at Truck Wholesale, 22640 Pleasant Valley Road, situated on a 20-acre site along Interstate 35 in Wellsville. It applies to KDOT, which was authorized in 2004 by the Miami County Circuit Court to clean up the property; to property owners Mark Lambeth and Joel Lambeth; and to former salvage operator Danny Lambeth; all of whom are listed as respondents to the order.

The order requires KDOT and the Lambeths to take the following series of actions:

  • Immediately develop and implement a plan to prevent discharges of oil and other pollutants into Rock Creek.
  • Identify all solid and hazardous wastes currently being generated at the facility.
  • Restrict access to areas where oil, solid and hazardous wastes have been disposed.
  • Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the State of Kansas.
  • Develop a plan to determine where hazardous wastes have been disposed at the facility, including an investigation to determine the extent of off-site migration of waste.
  • Clean up the property and any surrounding areas that may be contaminated.

A history of litigation surrounds the truck salvage business. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Kansas denied a request by the Lambeths to review the 2004 abatement order issued by the Miami County Circuit Court. In January 2009, KDOT, through its contractor, Gibsons Recycling, began to dismantle and remove vehicles, parts and other materials from the site.

The order notes that on at least four occasions between March 10, 2009, and July 24, 2009, EPA representatives visited the site to investigate reports of releases of diesel fuel, antifreeze, oils, battery wastes and other hazardous wastes on the property, and discharges of polluted stormwater from the site into nearby drainage ditches and Rock Creek. On at least three occasions during that time, the order says, EPA or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) directed KDOT and its contractor to take specific actions to contain the wastes and keep them from moving off the property.

But on a September 22, 2009, return visit, EPA representatives witnessed scrap metal, tires, wheels, truck parts, used oil and fuel filters, and dismantled batteries still littering the site or in drainage ditches, as well as oily sheens in puddles, and stormwater discharging from the site into ditches flowing into Rock Creek. EPA believes that soil and stormwater runoff from the property may be contaminated with various hazardous materials.

Under the order, the respondents have five days to certify to EPA how their waste storage and management activities are being conducted in compliance with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The respondents are prohibited from resuming any waste handling, excavation, grading or other salvage activities until EPA has reviewed and approved the RCRA certification.

Within seven days, the respondents must select an EPA-approved contractor to carry out the cleanup of the property, and within 30 days, they must submit to EPA a Site Characterization Work Plan to assess on-site contamination and off-site migration of waste, along with a schedule for completing the work. The respondents are also required to submit a final report to EPA within 45 days of all cleanup work being done.

The respondents could face civil penalties of up to $6,500 per day for any violation of the order.
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