September 24, 2008

State Fines City Trash Hauler $13,000

Trash hauler Willie Shell Sr. has been fined $13,000 by the state for sorting recyclables from trash at his firm's Lancaster City property, officials said Monday.

The Department of Environmental Protection levied the fine Saturday, 10 days after Shell was ordered by the state to cease the practice, DEP spokeswoman Lauri Lebo said.

Officials said the property was regularly strewn with trash, creating unsanitary conditions at Shell's Disposal & Recycling, 640 S. Franklin St., and creating possible health problems for neighbors.

Shell said Monday night that he had no comment on the penalty.

Lebo said Shell has 30 days to pay the fine or appeal the decision.

According to a news release issued by DEP Monday, state inspectors began investigating Shell in January after receiving numerous complaints from neighbors and city officials.

On three occasions this year, inspectors found evidence that Shell and his employees were dumping trash on the property to sift through it for recyclable material, the release stated. The trash was emitting odors and attracting vermin, officials said.

Shell's property is zoned as a material recovery facility, which permits him to sort recyclables only, not trash. City code mandates that trash be taken directly to a waste facility for disposal.

State officials stepped in after years of Shell's failure to comply with city zoning regulations for which he has been issued numerous citations.

In August 2007, Shell filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, claiming his civil rights were violated when the city initiated a single-hauler trash-collection system in 2006.

The nine-count suit alleges that city officials illegally canceled contracts and transferred Shell's customers to the city's designated hauler, York Waste Management.

A ruling on the suit is expected in early 2009.

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