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Donald Wagner Ordered to Clean Up Property and to Pay Penalties


RIPON - Donald Wagner of Ripon, Wisconsin, has agreed to clean up the mobile homes, drums, tires, boats, and other solid waste on his Green Lake County property and to pay $22,500 to settle state claims brought under Wisconsin's air pollution prevention and solid waste management laws.


The complaint that began the case alleged that Mr. Wagner purchased a 32 acre parcel in Green Lake County where the previous owner had been operating an unlicensed junk yard and mobile home scrapping operation.  It further alleged that Wagner had an agreement with two local men, John Hansen and Robert Mitchelly, whereby they would scrap the homes and keep the profits from the metals they collected.  In February 2007, four mobile homes were set afire.  A Department of Natural Resources inspection and investigation found asbestos in one of the burn piles, 40-60 other mobile homes in various stages of demolition, thousands of tires, appliances, furniture, batteries, boats, and other solid and hazardous wastes.


Wisconsin law prohibits the long-term storage of such waste without a solid waste storage facility operating license and plan approval from the Department of Natural Resources, and prohibits the disposal of solid waste at unlicensed facilities.  The law also requires that structures such as mobile homes must be tested for asbestos and any asbestos must be removed before any demolition activities occur.  None of the homes that were dismantled or burned were tested for asbestos.


As part of the settlement, Mr. Wagner agreed to test a well serving the property before he has it abandoned, and to test burn piles for VOCs, metals, and PCBs.  He agreed to secure a $70,000 line of credit to cover the anticipated costs of clean-up, and to complete all necessary work by set deadlines.  The State previously entered settlement agreements with Mr. Hansen and Mr. Mitchelly, whereby they agreed to pay $5,000 and $2,000 in forfeitures, respectively.


"The open burning of trailer homes with their plastic, foam, rubber, metal, and insulation components is a significant source of hazardous air pollutants, dioxin, asbestos, and heavy metal containing waste particulates," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.  "The releases are a health risk to Wisconsin citizens and a serious violation of environmental protection laws which the Wisconsin Department of Justice in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources will continue to enforce."


Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan prosecuted the case.  Green Lake County Circuit Court Judge William M. McMonigal approved the settlement.