Oregon environmental regulators suspended the license of a waste disposal service this week after the company committed numerous state and federal laws.
Among its transgressions, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: cutting a hole in a pipe leading to a publicly owned water treatment plant in Longview, Washington, and illegally dumping the sewage into it at night. The plant wasn’t authorized to handle such sewage.
That's one of the violations cited by the Oregon DEQ in explaining the actions it's taking against All Out Sewer and Drain Service Inc.
"It's very egregious," said Esther Westbrook, an environmental law specialist with DEQ.
The state also plans to revoke the license of the Longview-based company, which handled waste from septic tanks, portable toilets and other sources.
In December, the company and its owner, Ray Caldwell, were convicted in federal court on 25 felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act as well as counts of mail fraud and false statements. The City of Longview had suspicions about violations at the company as far back as 2009, and the EPA ultimately caught the illegal dumping during a stakeout, according to the Longview Daily News.
According to DEQ, the company was also operating without a required surety bond, which gives customers injured by the All Out's services a right of action against the company.
Westbrook said DEQ can no longer trust All Out to be truthful in its records nor in how it disposes of sewage and septage, which she says poses significant risk to human health and the environment, and so DEQ cannot adequately protect the public if All Out is handling such materials.
“Given this company’s history of flouting the law, we would want to take every action we can and that we are able to legally to prevent them from operating here," Westbrook said.
The company has the opportunity to appeal and request a hearing. In February, one month after Cowlitz County in Washington revoked his license for All Out, Caldwell's wife Joanne Caldwell obtained a license to pump septic.
Ray and Joanne Caldwell could not be reached for comment.