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Judge levies extra $70,000 penalty for illegal tire stockpile in Iowa
Jared Strong - Iowa Capital Dispatch
Sep. 5, 2022 6:00 am
Two Davenport men who earned money last year by hauling and storing thousands of junk tires without permits have been ordered to pay a total of $90,000 for the violations and to remove the tires from the property they rent, according to court documents.
Timothy James Peters and David Omar Mercado were fined $10,000 apiece early this year by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and ordered to dispose of the tires, but they failed to pay the fines and didn’t remove the tires.
In June, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller sued them and sought a court order that would require the men to comply with the DNR order. Peters and Mercado failed to file responses to the lawsuit, court records show.
A judge ruled last week that the men and their defunct company — TNT Disposal LLC — had defaulted and the court granted Miller’s requests. The men must:
— Pay their $10,000 fines from the DNR.
— Pay an additional civil penalty of $70,000.
— Cease hauling waste tires without a permit and collecting more at their property just west of Davenport.
— Remove the existing tires from the property within 60 days. The DNR estimated there are an equivalent of about 2,000 car tires.
Peters and Mercado could not be reached to comment for this article.
The DNR’s most recent investigation into the case began in September 2021, when someone complained to the DNR about the growing collection of tires at their property.
“The individuals were reportedly being paid by local businesses to pick up waste tires, thereby undercutting legitimate licensed waste tire haulers and recyclers,” according to a January DNR order. Peters and Mercado were charging $1 or $2 per tire — less than half of the going rate.
DNR officers went to the property in the 14100 block of 113th Avenue, Davenport, and found two semitrailer truck cargo boxes full of tires and a pile of tires in the backyard, DNR records show.
The year before, the city of Davenport removed up to 16,000 tires that Peters’ brother had accumulated at an in-town acreage. A judge’s order that approved the removal said the brother would be responsible for reimbursing the city’s costs, which were estimated to be up to $100,000.
This article originally appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.