When a school district hires a contractor to renovate or demolish a property within their domain, they expect the contractor to abide by state and local laws concerning disposal of debris, especially hazardous debris. But a Wapato, Washington-based contractor recently did the unthinkable. He dumped toxic waste, containing both asbestos and lead, on a private property after removing it from the grounds of the high school they had just finished demolishing.
An account of the incident, aired on KIMA-TV News, states that at least one sub-contractor charged with the task of demolishing the former Wapato High School is being investigated for improper disposal of asbestos-containing materials. The first sub-contractor in question, Groate Construction, hasn’t openly admitted to the infraction, but one of its employees told the news media that they indeed dumped “truck loads of material” on the private property, located on Ashue Road in Wapato.
The second company, Mid Valley Construction, was not reached for comment, but county officials believed they may have a definite hand in the asbestos handling fiasco as well.
The county is also investigating the owner of the property on Ashue Road as they believe he may have agreed to allow the dumping on his property. That is a violation of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws which state that toxic waste must only be discarded at designated landfills. The landowner could be charged with building and code violations and may be fined for land use violations and creating environmental hazards.
The pile of toxic debris has certainly disturbed those who live in the neighborhood. Patrick Truex, who lives close to the dump site, expressed his concern to KIMA-TV News.
“Asbestos is known to cause cancer so, you know, nobody wants to be associated with it. Nobody wants it in their neighborhood,” Patrick said. “You know, it’s just not a good thing.”
“Well it’s very disconcerting,” he added. “If they are actually dumping asbestos, the contractor probably should have known what he was doing and knew that was illegal.”