For years, Milton's notorious "junkyard dog," Gilbert Rhoades (profiled in this August 2008 cover story) has been lifting his leg to environmental and permitting laws. But this morning, a Chittenden County superior court judge finally slapped him with a $20,000 fine for failure to clean up his own mess.
Here's the straight poop from the Attorney General's Office:
The Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, ordered former junkyard owner Gilbert Rhoades to clean-up the Milton site following its finding of environmental violations earlier this year, including removal of all tires at the site within 90 days. The Court ordered Rhoades to pay $20,000 in civil penalties and Rhoades and his wife, Blanche Rhoades, to reimburse the State $24,857.58 for past investigative costs. The Court’s ruling follows a May 11th hearing in an environmental enforcement action brought by the Attorney General’s Office based on inspections by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
“This ruling sends a strong message that, although salvage yards can provide valuable services to the community, owners of such operations must follow Vermont’s environmental laws and operate in a safe manner,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell.
In addition to ordering the removal of all tires — estimated at anywhere between 50,000 and more than a million — at the site within 90 days, the Court:
- permanently enjoined Rhoades from operating a junkyard or salvage yard at the site without first obtaining all necessary permits and licenses; ordered Rhoades to comply with all statutes and regulations governing the handling of hazardous waste;
- ordered additional soil sampling and removal of lead contaminated soil
Since November 2009, the Rhoades have been subject to a preliminary injunction prohibiting them from taking in any new junk, including scrap metal, at the site.
A message left for Rhoades was not immediately returned on Friday.
Lynn Caldwell of the citizens' group Milton CLEAN, which has been pushing the state for years to do something about ABC Metals, said she is excited about the ruling, but "cautiously optimistic about the enforcement." Such caution is understandable, considering how long Caldwell and others have been pushing the state to give their words some teeth.
File photo by Jordan Silverman