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Judge Slaps Mass Polluter with $1.5M Fine for Illegal Waste Dumping

4/12/2021

(CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio) — A waste hauler in Clermont County has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in civil penalties after an investigation by the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost found that he illegally dumped significant amounts of waste on his property.

In February, Yost filed an eight-count complaint in Clermont County Common Pleas Court against Donald Combs, 55, of rural Milford and his wife, Anita, 50. In March, a judge upheld the complaint and found violations of Ohio’s laws on solid waste, construction and demolition debris. The judge also held that the waste constituted a public nuisance.

“Hauling trash to anywhere but the landfill is a rotten business, so we dumped some justice on this polluter,” Yost said. “I appreciate the help of our environmental partners at the EPA and in Clermont County to halt this illegal activity.”  

The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Environmental Enforcement Section (EES) by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Clermont County Public Health after numerous complaints of open dumping and open burning.

The court found that the Ohio EPA and Clermont County Public Health spent substantial time inspecting Combs’ properties for persistent violations of court orders. These inspections, followed by the significant legal work of the EES, were “extraordinary,” according to the judge.

The EES proved that Donald Combs for years covered acres of land near his hom and commercial properties with tens of thousands of pounds of construction debris, solid waste, trash and scrap tires. An Ohio EPA inspector testified that some of the piles were over 20 feet high and that cleanup costs for the sites approach nearly $1.3 million. 

Goshen Township Fire Department Chief Steve Pegram testified that the fire department had been to Mr. Combs site numerous times and that the site was a fire hazard. 

Combs, who solicited business mostly via Craigslist, undercut competitors who were factoring in the appropriate costs of properly dumping waste in a landfill.

Yost urges consumers to use professional waste haulers that handle waste properly to prevent environmental disasters. Consumers can research businesses and any complaints against them here.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Luke Sullivan: 614-270-2662

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