A judge has fined a northwest Iowa couple $88,000 for improper disposal of used appliances. The Iowa Attorney General’s office filed the lawsuit against Harold and Sharon De Vos, who operate an appliance demanufacturing facility in the unincorporated town of Edna.

Attorney General spokesperson ,Bob Brammer, says the couple ignored earlier oders by both the state and the court to clean up the site. "Eighty-eight thousand dollars is a very serious penalty obviously, but (the judge) noted he could have delivered penalties of over seven million dollars given some of the violations were $5,000 a day and they ran for several years," Brammer said.

The suit accused the De Voses of operating without proper environmental permits and failing to clean up illegally dumped solid waste. "We think an $88,000 penalty…sends a message to anyone else doing this that you need to do it right, protect people and protect the environment," Brammer said.

In his ruling, the judge said he was most concerned about the improper disposal of refigerators, which resulted in the release of mercury and PCBs into the environment. Brammer says other demanufacturing facilities in Iowa should make sure they’re following the proper procedures.

"They have to follow environmental regulations because there are certain products in these (appliances), there might be PCBs or mercury," Brammer said. "People get paid to take the appliances and they get some income from the scrap metal, but they have to do it right."