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Court Finds Former Milton Junkyard Owner Liable For Environmental Violations

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General,

February 11, 2011

The Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, found former Milton junkyard owner Gilbert Rhoades liable for environmental violations and clean-up of lead contamination at the Shirley Avenue site. The Court also found Gilbert Rhoades’ wife, Blanche Rhoades, liable for clean-up at the site. The Court's rulings follow a two-day trial held in November as a result of an environmental enforcement action brought by the Attorney General’s Office based on inspections by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

“Persons who operate junkyards in Vermont must follow our environmental laws,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “By the very nature of their business, junkyards often handle hazardous materials. This case should be a message to junkyard owners that they need to handle those materials in a safe and proper fashion or they will be held accountable.” Specifically, the Court found Gilbert Rhoades responsible for the operation of an unlicensed junkyard between 2007 and 2009; for the release of hazardous materials (lead) at the site; and for the abatement of existing lead contamination at the site as well as the threatened release of lead. Mrs. Rhoades was found liable only for the abatement of releases or threatened releases at the site. In previous rulings, the Court had already found Mr. Rhoades responsible for the unlicensed operation of a junkyard at the site from July 1, 2001 to August 3, 2007; for the operation of a solid waste management facility without certification; and for the improper management of hazardous waste at the site.

Since November 2009, the Rhoades have been subject to a preliminary injunction prohibiting them from taking in any new junk, including scrap metal, at the site. A hearing will be scheduled in Vermont Superior Court to address remaining issues around remedies, damages and penalties.

Related documents:

Ruling on the Merits (February 9, 2011)
Ruling on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment (November 20, 2009)
Ruling on Motion for Preliminary Injunction (November 20, 2009)

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