Landlord will contest fine over sewage leak

ACentral Point landlord faces a second civil fine for failing to fix a leaky septic system at an Ashland rental property where sewage has seeped into the street.

Denis Ervin Toney has until Tuesday to contest the $3,612 penalty he faces for ignoring state Department of Environmental Quality orders to repair the failed septic system at his property on the first block of Ashland's Crowson Road.

Toney already was fined $4,265 in June for failing to respond to DEQ letters requiring him to clean up the mess, DEQ records show.

Not only has Toney failed to pay that fine, "we didn't receive any response to the earlier civil penalty and order," said Susan Elworth, a DEQ environmental law specialist in Portland who has worked on the case.

Reached Wednesday by telephone, Toney said he plans to contest the fine but declined further comment.

Elworth said the property has been vacant and there are no recent complaints about spilled sewage.

DEQ officials said they don't know what's wrong with the septic system because Toney has failed to have the system inspected as DEQ required, Elworth said.

It was also unclear whether the fines levied so far in the case exceed the costs for cleanup and repairs, Elworth said.

The case began in September 2011 when a citizen's complaint spurred DEQ to send an inspector to the property, where he noticed sewage discharging from the system into the street, the agency report states.

Toney was sent two letters requesting he make repairs before his first civil penalty was assessed, Elworth said.

The discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage is considered a public health hazard, DEQ states. It can pose risks to people and wildlife, harm aquatic environments and taint nearby ground and surface water.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.


Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK