GARLAND CITY, Ark.—Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is investigating a Miller County crop dusting company for reportedly dumping its chemical containers and other trash.
Inspectors visited Garland Agviation on April 4 to check a complaint that a waste pit was being maintained near the company’s office and airstrip on Price Street. They found a pit containing about 80 cubic yards of waste, comprised mostly of empty containers of fungicide, herbicide, surfactant and other chemicals and evidence that some had been burned.
The garbage was in and near standing water—it is within 100 feet of a wetland that extends to a private duck pond—and many of the containers were still coated with chemical residue.
Tommy Goodwin, editor of the Lafayette County Press in Lewisville, Ark., was walking in the area when he “happened upon” the dump.
“I stepped out of the woods on the adjoining property, saw that 30 to 40 yards away and thought, ‘That isn’t right,’” Goodwin said.
Goodwin couldn’t gauge the scope of the dump from ground level, so he pulled up an aerial view of the site using Google Earth when he returned home. He noticed four areas of varying darkness he guessed were signs of previous dumping, burning and burying.
The discovery moved Goodwin to file a complaint with ADEQ shortly after.
Inspectors from the ADEQ’s air, water and solid waste divisions determined the site violated state air quality and waste disposal laws.
According to the ADEQ report, Garland Agviation owner Ronny Rogers met the inspectors at the site and admitted to maintaining the dump and burning waste.
“Everything that’s in the pit was put there by an employee that I fired,” Rogers said Friday.
To comply with ADEQ and Arkansas State Plant Board regulations, Rogers said the company triple-rinses empty containers. The resulting material reportedly poses little threat to people or water.
“It’s not like the general public thinks,” Rogers said. “It’s just a clean container, probably cleaner really than household product stuff.”
ADEQ spokeswoman Katherine Benenati said the agency is working with Rogers to ensure the site has been properly cleaned. The agency has yet to decide whether to assess penalties, which can reach $10,000.