MAY 2009

Columbus man indicted in buried truck, trash, tires case

A Franklin County, Ohio grand jury has indicted 57-year-old Ronald Wayne Gunn in connection with the burying of a trash truck, more than 76 tons of trash and recyclables and 2,000 mostly industrial-size tires (equivalent to 15,000 passenger tires) at Gunn’s former auto salvage yard, Ron’s Auto Repairs and Salvage Parts, located on the northeast side of Columbus.

More information about Ohio EPA's Office of Special Investigations is available on their website. They are part of the Central Ohio Environmental Task Force, comprised of local, state and federal agencies.

Gunn is charged with eight counts – five for operating a solid waste landfill without a license, two for open dumping and one for a water pollution charge.

The seven counts of open dumping and operating a solid waste landfill without a license are unclassified felonies. Each carries a penalty of two to four years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines. Any jail time for the water pollution charge, a misdemeanor, would be served concurrently with other charges. (Since the public in this industrial area is served by city water and not wells, no health danger is believed to have been posed.) Overall penalties, for convictions on all counts, would range from 14-28 years in jail and up to $175,000 in fines.

The illegal dumping was discovered through a tip concerning two buried trash trucks made to SWACO’s www.nailadumper.com website. On November 5 and 6, 2008, investigators from SWACO’s Nail-A-Dumper program (including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office) and Ohio EPA’s Office of Special Investigations executed a search warrant at the site and discovered the remnants of one trash truck that had been buried several years ago five feet underground with a load of garbage. The scrap tires were buried in multiple other holes throughout the premises along with miscellaneous trash.

Crews dug for two days at the site to recover the evidence. The city of Columbus removed 16.4 tons of trash. Ohio EPA conducted the excavation of the truck and tires and coordinated a contractor to clean up and properly dispose of 31.05 tons of mixed solid waste, 29.48 tons of recyclable waste (metal wheel rims) and 180.54 tons of tires.

Ohio EPA distributed more than $48,000 from Ohio’s Scrap Tire Management Fund to remove, shred and dispose of the auto, tractor and truck tires found at the site. Each year, approximately 12 million scrap tires are generated in Ohio. More than 43 million tires at 93 sites have been removed from stockpiles or illegal dumps across the state since Ohio’s Scrap Tire Abatement Program began in 1996. It is estimated five million scrap tires still remain illegally dumped throughout Ohio.

The Nail-A-Dumper program is funded by SWACO. The team includes deputies from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, a prosecutor from the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, representatives from the Franklin County Health Department and an employee of the Columbus Refuse Division. Residents may call the Nail-A-Dumper hotline at 614-871-5322, 24 hours a day to report illegal dumping or littering or they may log on to www.nailadumper.com to make their report.