Crews have begun removing 14,000 tons of construction debris and solid waste stacked three stories high at a 1-acre parcel on Stimmel Road on the city's South Side.
Officials with the Ohio EPA, Franklin County Public Health and the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio on March 14 to announced the massive cleanup at 1388 Stimmel Road, the site of an illegal dump.
Franklin County Health Commissioner Susan Tilgner said the waste poses health hazards because it attracts mosquitoes and vermin, which can spread disease. The rubbish also presents a risk for fire, which could send toxins into the air, she said.
"The cleanup will help ensure the public health is protected," she said.
The issue dates back to September 2009, when the Ohio EPA investigated a complaint about solid waste being illegally dumped at the property, which was being leased by Regional Waste Services.
At the time, the property was being used as a legitimate transfer station for construction and demolition debris, said Heather Robinson, chief of the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office Environmental Unit.
Richard Fintak entered the picture when he told Regional Waste Services, which is no longer in business, he could clean up the site.
However, he was allowing haulers to dump household trash and garbage on the property, Robinson said. The Ohio EPA, with the help of local authorities, found evidence of this and arrested Fintak, who initially fled but was later caught and brought to justice, Robinson said.
In 2011, Fintak pled guilty to open dumping and operating an illegal landfill. Fintak, now 50, served five months of a three-year sentence and was released in September, although local law-enforcement officials weren't notified of his release, Robinson said.
In the four months he illegally operated the dump, he made $1.8 million, mostly in cash, Robinson said.
Fintak was ordered to pay restitution but claimed he had no assets, she said. Furthermore, his whereabouts currently are unknown, she said.
The three agencies, along with Franklin Township, will share the financial burden -- estimated at $380,000 --to remove the waste from the site, a process that should take about two weeks.