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DEQ warning issued for dead rats

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a warning to a Hiwassee man to clean up dead rats on his property or face serious fines.
The letter, issued to Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV on July 8, was the result of an inspection of Nelson’s Lead Mines Road property July 6.
Virginia State Police First Sgt. Mike Honaker said he and Sgt. Steve Lowe accompanied two DEQ representatives to the property July 6 at the request of the agency representatives. It was the second visit DEQ had made to the site.
According to the letter from Senior Environmental Specialist Nicole Paynotta, it appeared to DEQ during a Jan. 30 visit that 45-year-old Nelson was complying with Virginia State Waste Management Regulations (VSWMR) by developing compost. She said Nelson indicated the compost was being applied to about two acres of the Hiwassee property “to promote vegetative growth in the horse pastures.”
At that time, Paynotta states, Nelson indicated he was feeding euthanized rats to turkey vultures and then composting the remains along with animal bedding generated on the property, at Nelson’s Radford pet store (Classy Critters), at Harlan Laboratories and at Natural Bridge Zoo.
According to its website, Harlan Laboratories operates animal research laboratories throughout the world, including Dublin. Honaker said the Dublin facility has denied having any connection with Nelson.
After receiving an anonymous complaint at the DEQ’s Roanoke office, the second inspection was conducted on July 6, according to Paynotta. She said the complaint was of “strong and offensive” odors.
The DEQ specialist said the July visit found about 50 cubic yards of rat remains and animal bedding, as well as rat carcasses.
“The condition of the piles was not consistent with the conditions observed in January 2009. It did not appear that the piles were being actively managed to produce compost …,” the letter states. She goes on to say that the VSWMR allow for controlled aerobic decomposition, but not anaerobic (with little or no oxygen) decomposition as was found on Nelson’s property.
Therefore, Paynotta said Nelson is required to dispose of the remains, carcasses and bedding according to waste management requirements at a permitted site.
Since Nelson’s activities were found to allegedly be in violation of waste management requirements, the letter states that the activities must immediately cease and any waste remaining on the property must be cleaned up.
According to Paynotta, state code provides for a civil penalty of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of the Virginia Waste Management Act. The code also allows the Waste Management Board to issue orders of compliance and impose a $100,000 civil penalty; and for the DEQ director to issue special orders of compliance and impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Nelson has been given until July 28 to respond in writing to the letter “detailing actions (he has) taken or will be taking to ensure compliance with state law and regulations.”
DEQ requests that the waste piles be removed from the Hiwassee location to the county landfill no later than 60 days from the date of the July 8 letter. At that point, Nelson will be required to show proof of removal “in the form of receipts.”
During the July inspection, Honaker said, Nelson allegedly told the DEQ representatives that he didn’t want to say where he was getting the carcasses because “they are a non-profit organization.”
However, Honaker said the man indicated the rats were being euthanized at commercial facilities.
The sergeant said Nelson also discussed plans to breed his own rats to feed to the turkey vultures.
“He said he’s down to (receiving) one to two bags (of carcasses) a day,” Honaker said. He explained that the bags contained 75 to 100 carcasses each and that Nelson admitted at one point receiving up to 16 bags at a time.
“He had three large freezers in his garage that were so full (of rat carcasses) you couldn’t get the doors closed. He had blankets hanging over them,” Honaker added.
State police recently charged Nelson with 200 counts of improperly disposing of dead animals. An Aug. 4 hearing date has been scheduled in Pulaski County General District Court.

DEQ warning issued for dead rats

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a warning to a Hiwassee man to clean up dead rats on his property or face serious fines.
The letter, issued to Alexander Montgomery Nelson IV on July 8, was the result of an inspection of Nelson’s Lead Mines Road property July 6.
Virginia State Police First Sgt. Mike Honaker said he and Sgt. Steve Lowe accompanied two DEQ representatives to the property July 6 at the request of the agency representatives. It was the second visit DEQ had made to the site.
According to the letter from Senior Environmental Specialist Nicole Paynotta, it appeared to DEQ during a Jan. 30 visit that 45-year-old Nelson was complying with Virginia State Waste Management Regulations (VSWMR) by developing compost. She said Nelson indicated the compost was being applied to about two acres of the Hiwassee property “to promote vegetative growth in the horse pastures.”
At that time, Paynotta states, Nelson indicated he was feeding euthanized rats to turkey vultures and then composting the remains along with animal bedding generated on the property, at Nelson’s Radford pet store (Classy Critters), at Harlan Laboratories and at Natural Bridge Zoo.
According to its website, Harlan Laboratories operates animal research laboratories throughout the world, including Dublin. Honaker said the Dublin facility has denied having any connection with Nelson.
After receiving an anonymous complaint at the DEQ’s Roanoke office, the second inspection was conducted on July 6, according to Paynotta. She said the complaint was of “strong and offensive” odors.
The DEQ specialist said the July visit found about 50 cubic yards of rat remains and animal bedding, as well as rat carcasses.
“The condition of the piles was not consistent with the conditions observed in January 2009. It did not appear that the piles were being actively managed to produce compost …,” the letter states. She goes on to say that the VSWMR allow for controlled aerobic decomposition, but not anaerobic (with little or no oxygen) decomposition as was found on Nelson’s property.
Therefore, Paynotta said Nelson is required to dispose of the remains, carcasses and bedding according to waste management requirements at a permitted site.
Since Nelson’s activities were found to allegedly be in violation of waste management requirements, the letter states that the activities must immediately cease and any waste remaining on the property must be cleaned up.
According to Paynotta, state code provides for a civil penalty of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of the Virginia Waste Management Act. The code also allows the Waste Management Board to issue orders of compliance and impose a $100,000 civil penalty; and for the DEQ director to issue special orders of compliance and impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Nelson has been given until July 28 to respond in writing to the letter “detailing actions (he has) taken or will be taking to ensure compliance with state law and regulations.”
DEQ requests that the waste piles be removed from the Hiwassee location to the county landfill no later than 60 days from the date of the July 8 letter. At that point, Nelson will be required to show proof of removal “in the form of receipts.”
During the July inspection, Honaker said, Nelson allegedly told the DEQ representatives that he didn’t want to say where he was getting the carcasses because “they are a non-profit organization.”
However, Honaker said the man indicated the rats were being euthanized at commercial facilities.
The sergeant said Nelson also discussed plans to breed his own rats to feed to the turkey vultures.
“He said he’s down to (receiving) one to two bags (of carcasses) a day,” Honaker said. He explained that the bags contained 75 to 100 carcasses each and that Nelson admitted at one point receiving up to 16 bags at a time.
“He had three large freezers in his garage that were so full (of rat carcasses) you couldn’t get the doors closed. He had blankets hanging over them,” Honaker added.
State police recently charged Nelson with 200 counts of improperly disposing of dead animals. An Aug. 4 hearing date has been scheduled in Pulaski County General District Court.