February 1, 1999
DUVALL--One of three Duvall-area property owners who have been seeking permission from the county to develop a gravel mine just south of town has been fined $15,500 for burning thousands of tires over a three-day period last year on his farm near Kittitas, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.
The Department of Ecology issued the penalty to Mike Alberg for an illegal fire that burned an estimated 6,000 automobile tires between Jan. 14-16, 1998. Ecology's regional office in Yakima investigated the fire at the request of Kittitas County authorities. According to state law, only natural vegetation can be burned in an outdoor fire.
"Mr. Alberg's fire produced thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants that ultimately can harm humans and damage the environment," said Donna Smith, with Ecology's air program in Yakima. "Burning illegal materials such as tires is a serious violation."
Smith noted citizens with more than 800 tires on their property must have a solid-waste permit from their local health districts.
"Tire fires are difficult to extinguish, they emit toxic compounds, and they can be dangerous to fire service personnel who are called upon to respond," said Smith. "Proper disposal is the key to preventing these fires."
In addition to the fine, Alberg is required to take reasonable precautions to assure the considerable volume of ash created by the fire does not leach into ground or surface waters or become airborne. The penalty follows a notice of violation that was issued to Alberg last February. Alberg may appeal the penalty, said Smith.
Over the last couple of years, Mike, Kay, and Tom Alberg have been attempting to develop a large-scale gravel mine on 160 acres along SR-203 about a mile south of Duvall. The plan has been opposed by a local group called the Novelty Neighbors.
Last summer, the Growth Management Hearings Board upheld a King County Council decision that changed the status of the site from Legal NonConforming (LNC) to Potential Mineral Resource Site. That decision makes it more difficult for the Albergs to get the required permits from the Department of Developmental and Environmental Services (DDES).
The Alberg family is appealing the decision to Superior Court, said Novelty Neighbors President Jim Eldridge, adding that briefs from the Albergs are due in court this week. "We and the other parties have two weeks to file a response," he said.
Trial is expected in mid-March.