DEP Issues Civil Penalty against Luzerne County Man for Violations at Waste Tire Site

Wilkes-Barre, PA (11/10/2020) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a $266,987 civil penalty against a Luzerne County man for ongoing violations related to unlawful management of thousands of waste tires at his property in Duryea Borough. The owner, Douglas Martinez, has failed to comply with a July 2018 Compliance Order and a 2019 Court Order requiring him to implement mosquito controls at the site, re-configure several waste piles, and eventually conduct a full cleanup of the site.

Due to Martinez’s inaction on both orders, DEP has asked Luzerne County Court to hold Martinez in contempt and incarcerate him, as he is facing additional fines for the violations. DEP has had to incur the cost of hiring a contractor to treat the waste tires and will eventually hire another contractor to remove them. The lack of compliance is a violation of the Solid Waste Management Act.

“We have tried for more than two years to bring this site into compliance with waste regulations, but we did not receive cooperation,” said Mike Bedrin, director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. “It is imperative that business owners comply with environmental regulations and department orders, particularly when they involve matters that could threaten public safety.”

Martinez was ordered by DEP in 2018 to implement a plan to control mosquitos that were breeding in water contained in the tire piles and to also change the structure and reduce the number of tires at the site to conform with size limitations and prevent the possibility of fire from combustion. He was also ordered to remove excess tires at the site after the reconfiguration and provide receipts of their disposal. He failed to comply with that order.

In June 2019, the department petitioned Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, asking the court to intervene and enforce DEP’s order. The courts granted the petition, but again, Martinez failed to comply. The court found Martinez in contempt in August of 2020 and imposed a civil penalty of $35,300. Martinez failed to pay that penalty; therefore, DEP filed a judgment lien on the two properties owned by Martinez in Luzerne County to help offset the cost of the tire pile clean-up.

To date, Martinez has not complied with DEP’s Compliance Order or the Court Order at all.

DEP is reminding residents and business owners that Martinez does not have a permit to accept or store tires at his site. Thus, disposal of tires there could be a violation of environmental regulations.

CONTACT: Colleen Connolly, DEP 570-826-2035