COOS COUNTY — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Willy Joe Jenkins $25,393 for illegally disposing of household garbage, used appliances, demolition debris, tires and other waste at his 2-acre property in Coos County.
The property is located at 62678 Seven Devils Road, Coos Bay.
However, Jenkins, 43, formerly of Bandon, is incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institute in Ontario, where he is serving a five-year sentence after being convicted in Coos County in 2015 on crimes related to illegal possession of firearms and methamphetamine possession.
A letter was sent by DEQ to Jenkins — at his Ontario address — on Sept. 15, informing him that inspectors had found about 250 cubic yards of waste on the property, which is not permitted to be used as a solid waste facility. It is illegal to dispose of solid waste anywhere except at a permitted disposal facility. Illegal dumps can pollute ground and surface water. Such dumps can also threaten human health by attracting insects and rodents, said Katherine Benenati, DEQ public affairs specialist in the Eugene office.
Benenati said the waste includes furniture and at least two boats and covers an entire hillside on the property, which Jenkins still owns.
Jenkins had until Oct. 7 to appeal the penalty, which he has done, according to Benenati. Respondents have 20 days from the time they receive the letter to file an appeal.
"Incarceration doesn't prevent someone from paying a civil penalty or from appealing such a penalty," Benenati said.
The DEQ initially investigated because it received a confidential complaint about the property.
"We often learn of sites like these, particularly if the area is remote, from complaints," Benenati said. "DEQ inspectors are also in the field quite a bit, so if they were to see something like this could take appropriate action."
DEQ inspected the property on Oct. 2, 2014 and again on Feb. 19, 2016. Both times, inspectors witnessed the discarded material. On Nov. 26, 2014, DEQ sent Jenkins a warning letter with an opportunity to correct, citing the violation and giving Jenkins an opportunity to properly dispose of the solid waste without a penalty.
In addition, on March 30, 2017, DEQ sent Jenkins a pre-enforcement civil penalty notice, again citing the violation and requesting that he dispose of the solid waste by July 28, 2017.
Despite the letters from DEQ, Jenkins failed to bring the property into compliance.
Of the penalty, $24,393 represents the economic benefit Jenkins gained by failing to remove the waste and dispose of it at a permitted facility. The approximate dollar value of the benefit gained is designed to "level the playing field" by taking away any economic advantage the entity gained and to deter potential violators from deciding it's cheaper to violate and pay the penalty than to pay the costs of compliance.
It would have cost Jenkins $20,351 to properly dispose of the trash, according to the DEQ.