Tons of solid waste and thousands of rats that lived and nested around an unlicensed landfill in Washington C.H. were removed last month.
Cartwright Salvage, Inc., 839 Bogus Road, was indicted by a Fayette County grand jury a year after a 25-foot tall by 50-foot long pile of household garbage caught fire April 21, 2015, and took nearly 10 hours to extinguish. Investigators said the site didn’t have an operating license.
Following the investigation, the Fayette County Health Department applied for $100,000 through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental protection remediation fund.
The agreement was made between the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director, Craig W. Butler, and Robert Vanzant, the Fayette County Health Commissioner, to expedite the clean-up of the garbage at the Cartwright Salvage site.
The EPA’s environmental protection remediation fund disperses moneys collected from past judgments and settlements to remediate hazardous waste that is a substantial threat to public health or safety.
“We requested the money to move it along faster because of the immediate danger of the rats and the possibility of another fire,” said Leigh Cannon, Fayette County Health District Deputy Commissioner.
Cannon said the rats numbered in the thousands.
“Whenever you have a trash pile like that it becomes a feeding source for rats. We had to do rat abatement before we could remove all of the trash,” said Cannon.
A company was hired and it developed a plan to bait the rats. They started to put rat baits around the pile of garbage. The rats started dying off slowly. Then the company put baits inside the pile of garbage itself.
“It took a few weeks before we could get the population down so we could go in and get the trash,” said Cannon.
The rats who weren’t baited decided to start moving.
“Once we began to remove the trash, the rats lost their food source and started scurrying to the neighbors’ houses,” said Cannon.
Cannon said they began receiving phone calls about the rats from the people who lived close to the dump. The rats were about the size of your feet, according to Cannon.
A voucher program was established to help the neighbors get rat poison for their houses.
“We have not had any rat complaints in the last six weeks,” said Cannon.
The garbage was hauled off to a licensed landfill.
“Everything is cleaned up and removed now. There’s no longer a nuisance,” said Cannon.
She said it’s the only time the Health Department has ever investigated a garbage pile that large.
“Our office has had complaints before about open dumping. Basically, trash piled on the side of a house for a few weeks when people don’t have trash pickup. We have to go out and investigate it and see how it could be removed and how we can help to mediate the situation. But nothing of the landfill size,” said Cannon.
Cartwright Salvage is scheduled for trial next week in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas on criminal charges of open burning or open dumping, operating a solid waste facility without a license, and operating a solid waste transfer facility without a license.
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton