The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has filed a lawsuit in Mitchell County that accuses a rural Osage woman of repeatedly violating environmental regulations.
Bob Brammer, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, says Colleen Weber has dumped and burned a variety of materials on her property for years. The Iowa D.N.R. first asked Weber to clean up the site in 2003 and issued a $1,500 penalty in 2005.
"The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has inspected the site on numerous occasions, as late as a few weeks ago," Brammer said. "But, it just hasn’t been cleaned up and the penalty hasn’t been paid."
The lawsuit asks the court to order civil penalties up to $5,000 per day for solid waste dumping violations and up to $10,000 per day for open burning air quality violations and to order Weber to pay past administrative penalties.
Brammer, though, says the primary goal is to get the owner to comply with environmental requirements.
"Frankly, our mission here is to ask the court to get done what we couldn’t get done through the DNR," Brammer said.
The dump site is located about four miles east of Osage, near the intersection of Highways 218 and 9. The lawsuit claims the materials that have been dumped and burned include discarded wood, metal, fabric, cardboard, furniture and food waste. Brammer says it’s rare for the state to take legal action against a person for illegal dumping on their own property.
"I would say most of time when the D.N.R. takes administrative action, it gets the job done," Brammer said. "In this case, I think it’s a matter of getting compliance, getting the place cleaned up and prohibiting any future violations."