City to punish asbestos dumpers

BUCKHANNON — Anyone who is caught dumping asbestos-ridden material at the city’s waste transfer station could have to fork out as much as $500 in the future.

At its meeting Thursday, Buckhnannon City Council approved on first reading Ordinance 423, which prohibits the disposal of — or attempted disposal of —materials containing asbestos at the transfer station on Mud Lick Road or at “any facility owned or operated by the City of Buckhannon Waste Collection Board.”

City attorney Tom O’Neill, who participated in the meeting by telephone from Parkersburg, said the new ordinance was spurred by two instances in the last six months involving people dumping asbestos at the waste transfer station. Cleaning up asbestos-containing materials is both costly and time-consuming, O’Neill said.

“The purpose of the ordinance is to create a criminal offense for the depositing or attempted depositing of asbestos-containing material at the waste transfer station,” O’Neill said. “It’s a matter of fact that asbestos is a hazardous material. It is found to be so and declared to be so in state code and in the United States code and in state rules and federal regulations.

“And the city adopts the findings of state and federal authorities that asbestos, a shortened term for some rather complicated chemistry, [is harmful],” O’Neill added.

According to the ordinance, if an individual is caught depositing — or trying to deposit — asbestos at any city-owned facility, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor and required to pay a fine between $250 and $500 if found guilty. Being found guilty of a second offense will result in the person being required to pay an automatic $500 fine, “with no discretion from the municipal judge,” mayor David McCauley said.

In addition, those cited for asbestos-dumping will be denied building and demolition permits and could have their contractor’s licenses revoked for a year following conviction.

McCauley said, “This is not some clever revenue-generating thing. We’re a $13-million-dollar-a-year budget when you add up the general fund with all the utilities. It’s about trying to change people’s conduct and on two different occasions in the last six months alone we had to shut down our waste collection operations” after asbestos had been dumped at the transfer station.

Remediating asbestos costs the city several thousand dollars, the mayor said, noting the city’s waste board had recommended council approve the ordinance.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh made a motion to approve the ordinance, which was seconded by councilwoman Pam Cuppari before passing unanimously. City recorder, Dr. Susan Aloi, suggested the city insert information about the new ordinance in building and demolition permit packets when it distributes them so contractors are aware of the possible penalties.

A second and final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for council’s Jan. 18 meeting, and if passed, it will go into effect Feb. 17.

In other news, council:

*Appointed Alison Clausen and Dr. Tonya Pickens to the city’s Animal Care and Control Board

*Appointed Curtis Wilkerson and Matt Kerner to the city’s Planning Commission

*Appointed Abigail Benjamin as the city representative on the Fire Civil Service Board

*Heard a request from McCauley to give all full-time city employees a 50-cent-per hour raise and bump the city’s minimum wage up to $10 per hour, effective July 1, 2018, during its 2018-2019 budgeting process

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