PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have warned the owner of Midway Metals to correct longstanding code violations or face civil and criminal penalties.
After a closed executive session Monday, commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize Sheriff Bill Benedict and District 2 Commissioner Randy Johnson to sign a cease and desist letter to scrapyard owner Katrina Haymaker of Port Orchard.
Haymaker, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, faces code enforcement action and possible criminal citations if she does not stop violating county code and state solid waste regulations, the letter states.
“We’ll look forward to getting that letter out and seeing what happens next,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said after the hour-long executive session.
“This is obviously a complex issue that has been a tough one for the county.”
Clallam County received a petition last year from 260 neighbors calling for action at the Midway Metal site, 258010 U.S. Highway 101.
Years of illegal dumping there have contributed to groundwater pollution, and a 2019 fire heightened concerns about dangerous chemicals on the property, Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn has said.
The non-permitted facility east of Port Angeles has contaminated the soil and groundwater with mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrocarbons, arsenic, total chromium and other chemicals, county officials said.
“For over a year, substantial efforts have been undertaken by Clallam County Code Enforcement, Health and Human Services and the Sheriff’s Office to attempt to resolve the numerous civil code violations that have occurred and are currently occurring on your property,” the letter to Haymaker states.
The six-page letter, obtained Tuesday through a public records request, alleges that Midway Metals was in violation of county code Chapter 41 (health regulations), Chapter 7.01 (junk dealers) and the state Model Toxics Control Act.
“You are hereby directed to cease and desist from conducting illegal county code activities or allowing those illegal county code activities to be conducted on the property,” the letter said.
“If you do not cease and desist from all illegal county code activities occurring on the property and correct the violations of Clallam County Code, then you may face civil code enforcement and criminal citation by the Sheriff’s Office.”
Civil action may include fines, liens and “all other actions/remedies allowed by law,” the letter said.
Criminal penalties may include misdemeanor charges punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It is a gross misdemeanor to litter more than 1 cubic yard of material.
“The site contains tons of solid waste that has been unlawfully dumped onto the property, and solid waste continues to be unlawfully dumped onto the site,” the county letter to Haymaker states.
“Despite all of the county’s efforts to convince you to abate the violations, you have not done so.”
Midway Metals has been listed as a Priority 1 cleanup site by the state Department of Ecology since 2008.
Haymaker has no permit or Ecology-approved exemption to operate a solid waste facility, county officials said. Her one-year junk dealer license expired last Aug. 15, according to the letter.
Haymaker was assessed $14,000 in administrative fines for violating health code under Chapter 41. She also was ordered to pay $7,000 in fines related to the junk dealers code section, Chapter 7.01.
“You have failed to pay the county any portion of the fines owed,” the letter said.
A county sheriff’s deputy who knew Haymaker in high school met with her in December 2019 to discuss the violations and sought voluntary compliance, according to the letter. Haymaker did not respond to the county’s request for a subsequent meeting, the letter said.
Three county hearings examiner orders were issued on the code Chapter 7.01 violations in September 2019, March 2020 and October 2020.
Haymaker built a wooden fence around the property with a gate after the most recent order last fall. She provided a surety bond Dec. 9 but still owed the county $7,000 on the junk dealer code violations.
After another executive session last Oct. 20, commissioners directed the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to prepare an injunction against Haymaker.
Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez was not immediately available to comment on the case Tuesday.
No court case had been filed against Haymaker as of Tuesday, according to a search of Superior Court records.
A citizen had suggested that Clallam County purchase the Midway Metals business — but not the real estate — to expedite the cleanup, Alvarez said after commissioners reconvened in an open session Monday.
“As the operator, we would be subject to full liability for any contamination at the site, and so it’s considered the opinion of the Prosecuting Attorneys Office that that should not be pursued,” Alvarez said.
Ozias said the issue was “complicated subject matter” and “tough because we’re dealing with people.”
The cease and desist letter concludes by putting the onus on Haymaker to address the ongoing code violations.
“What Clallam County does next will be based entirely on your action or inaction,” the letter said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].