The owner of Cartwright Salvage, Inc., plead guilty Wednesday to illegal disposal of solid waste by open dumping.
Loren A. Cartwright, of Washington Court House, owns the automobile salvage and garbage removal company, located at 839 Bogus Road.
The 80-year-old was indicted by a Fayette County grand jury after a 25-foot tall by 50-foot long pile of household garbage caught fire at the site April 21, 2015, and took nearly 10 hours to extinguish.
Cartwright never had a state license to operate a solid waste landfill, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Fayette County Health Department, which investigated the site.
The Attorney General’s Office estimated the site on Bogus Road had been used as an unlicensed landfill going back as far as 2009, and even after the 2015 fire, continued to be used as an unlicensed garbage dump until February 2016.
“Mr. Cartwright was operating a business having contracts with up to 1,000 residents to haul their municipal waste to a lawful landfill for disposal. Instead of disposing that waste properly under the law, Mr. Cartwright brought it back to the facility at 839 Bogus Road and dumped it,” said Robert Cheugh, principal assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio.
Cartwright did not have a license to be a landfill or for the site to be a transfer facility, said Cheugh.
“Mr. Cartwright gave directions to some employees to actually dig pits and start pushing waste into those pits for which would be improper disposal under the law,” said Cheugh.
The Fayette County Health Department made several site visits and said Cartwright Salvage did not meet requirements for licensing. Cartwright Salvage’s license to haul garbage was not renewed in January because of the continuous unlicensed dumping of garbage.
Th 25-feet high and 50-feet long pile of garbage was removed last month with a $100,000 grant from the EPA’s environmental protection remediation fund. Leigh Cannon, Fayette County Health Department Deputy Health Commissioner, said they had never before investigated a garbage pile that large.
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 after it was determined it was highly combustible and that thousands of rats were living in the unlicensed landfill.
A third party company was hired to do rat abatement before the entire garbage pile could be removed. The garbage pile was hauled off by a company licensed to haul garbage and operate a landfill.
At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that criminal charges would be filed.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office served as special prosecutors for the state.
In the plea deal, counts two and three of the indictment were dismissed for operating a solid waste facility without a license and operating a solid waste transfer facility without a license.
Cartwright is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 13 and faces a minimum $10,000 mandatory fine. A penitentiary sentence will be suspended.
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton