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Columbus Man Pleads Guilty to Polluting Neighborhood
A 41 year old Columbus man will have to clean up the remnants of hundreds of smashed TV and computer screens in his south end neighborhood. Robert A. Holland has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted illegal disposal of hazardous waste. The case was investigated by SWACO's Environmental Crimes Task Force of Central Ohio. Authorities became aware of the situation after a tip was called into the City of Columbus 311 Call Center.
"We are very concerned about this case," says SWACO Executive Director Ron Mills. "The average CRT tube from an old TV or computer screen contains two to seven pounds of lead. If lead has been released into the soil and air, it could pose some serious health risks. The site involved is in a heavily populated neighborhood."
Court records show that Holland is living in the detached garage of 799 East Stewart Avenue. His mother and his young son live in the home at that address. Prosecutors say Holland was smashing the tubes with a hammer on a cement slab of an old garage at 803 East Stewart Avenue to harvest the recyclable parts for sale. The Ohio EPA and SWACO's Environmental Crimes Task Force will be serving a search warrant at the sites within the next week to determine if any lead is present and if so how much. This will indicate whether the concrete pad must be removed and how many inches of soil will need to be removed as well. The EPA is estimating the disposal costs to be approximately $10,000. As part of his plea, Holland will be responsible for any cleanup costs.
The charge against Holland is a first degree misdemeanor. He has been placed on probation for five years. If he doesn't comply with the terms of his probation he faces up to six months in jail.
The conditions of Holland's probation include:
- 120 hours of community service on the SWACO litter crew;
- No treatment, storage, transportation or disposal of hazardous waste of any kind;
- No possession or disposal of CRT monitors, either broken or intact;
- Defendant must properly dispose of all non-hazardous solid waste on his own property and the adjacent property by October 31, 2011;
- Defendant is responsible for the disposal of the hazardous waste on his own property and the adjacent property pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code and the regulations adopted thereunder; defendant shall follow the guidance given by Ohio EPA in disposing of the material, and will be responsible for the costs associated with the removal. The waste must be removed by October 31, 2011;
- Defendant shall have his own blood lead levels checked by the Columbus Health Department within 30 days;
- Defendant must have the blood lead levels checked of any children of which he has custody, also within 30 days;
- Defendant must allow Ohio EPA, its agents and other necessary personnel onto the property on which he lives to test for lead levels in the soil, air, water and interior of his dwelling, on a date of Ohio EPA's choosing;
- Defendant must pay court costs (approx. $800)
Citizens of Franklin County have the power to "turn them in" when they see someone illegally dumping or littering. By calling 614-871-5322 or logging on to www.itsacrime.org citizens can report environmental crimes locally. The Environmental Crimes Task Force of Central Ohio is managed and funded by SWACO, The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. It includes representatives of Franklin County Public Health, deputies from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, a prosecutor from the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, and an inspector from the Columbus Division of Refuse.