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City Sues Over 500 Gallons of Dumped Paint

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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A year after 500 gallons of latex paint were dumped in Chesapeake, Virginia’s South Hill neighborhood, the city is suing those it says are responsible.

Photos: The City of Chesapeake

The paint leached into the ground, the city’s storm sewer system and the wetlands of the Elizabeth River, according to a lawsuit.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the city filed a lawsuit in February in Circuit Court against property owner TKBL LLC., tenant Haas Inc., and the two people allegedly responsible for dumping the paint, Garnett Marie Hall and Darrell Lowe.

The Story

The suit claims that last year Haas Inc. owner Roger Haas gave the cans of paint to Lowe to sell as scrap metal, and that Lowe then dumped the paint to empty the cans.

The city’s fire and public works departments were called to the area on March 4, 2016 after someone reported a white substance in a ditch. The paint leached into the ground, the city’s storm sewer system and the wetlands of the Elizabeth River, according to a lawsuit.

The city originally cited Haas Inc. for violating the state fire-prevention code and told the grounds maintenance business to complete a site assessment.

According to the suit, Haas dug a trench and tarped the area, but that didn’t stop the paint from leaching.

The city’s fire and public works departments were called to the area on March 4, 2016 after someone reported a white substance in a ditch.

Scott Carnes, Haas’ attorney, said that his client met several times with the city and tried to follow what they told him to do.

“He thought he was doing what he was directed to do by city officials and their contractor,” Carnes said.

However, the suit claims that Haas did not complete the required assessment until 12 days after the city found out about the spill. That assessment was with HEPACO (a professional environmental cleaning company), and called for a specific treatment to the site that Haas did not complete properly, according to the suit.

The Aftermath

Lowe maintains that he gave the cans to Hall and had no further interaction with the scene and claims he found out later about the dumping. Similarly, Carnes says Haas told Hall she could have the cans for scrap but did not give permission to dump the paint on the property.

“We’re not responsible for her unlawful actions,” the attorney said.

The city did not see any signs of lasting environmental damage from the spill.

In order to properly clean the site, the lawsuit says, the city picked up the $34,000 tab with HEPACO.

“The contractor pumped the ditch for weeks until there wasn’t any paint left,” said assistant city attorney Meredith Jacobi. “We never saw any signs indicating that further monitoring was needed.”

She added that the city did not see any signs of lasting environmental damage from the spill.

Hass, Hall and Lowe are each facing a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully discharging into storm water facilities.

 

Editor's note: This story was one of our most popular in 2017, and it appeared in our Readers' Choice edition Dec. 27. Since it was originally published, General District Court Judge Robert MacDonald dismissed the charges against Roger Haas and Darrell Lowe. Garnett Marie Hall pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor count of unlawful discharge. She was fined $150.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection; hazardous materials; Hazardous waste; Paint

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