OEPA targets dog pound

An anonymous complaint has led the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to charge the Fulton County Dog Pound with violating requirements to maintain records regarding the facility’s air permit.

On May 29, the OEPA issued a three-page letter to Dog Warden Brian Banister charging the facility with failure to:

• Keep daily records of emissions from the stack of its incinerator. That includes descriptions of emissions color and whether the emissions represent normal or abnormal operations. If emissions are abnormal, the dog pound must report why, and what was done to correct them.

• Maintain a log recording data from each animal cremation.

• Operate, monitor or maintain a continuous automatic system installed to monitor the temperature of a secondary combustion chamber.

• Submit its reporting year 2014 Permit Evaluation Report to the OEPA district office, which was due Feb. 15.

The charges were issued following an on-site inspection by Julie Budge and Jan Tredway of the OEPA’s Division of Air Pollution Control. All of the infractions are violations of the the facility’s air permit, P0117886, and the Ohio Revised Code.

The agency responded to an anonymous complaint it received about the dog pound on April 28.

The OEPA has instructed Banister to submit a written response that includes a compliance plan and a schedule bringing the facility’s dual-chamber, gas-fired animal crematory into compliance. According to the OEPA, providing that information does not excuse the dog pound from civil penalties the agency could decide to pursue.

“Its just a matter of getting in compliance ith the OEPA, which we intend to do,” Banister said. He said because it’s an on-going process he won’t comment further.

Fulton County Commissioner Bill Rufenacht said County Administrator Vond Hall would have to initiate any investigation into whether Banister’s non-compliance was due to insubordination or ignorance of the regulations. He said, however, that it’s likely the commissioners will discuss Banister’s performance in a future executive session.

Rufenacht declined to comment further.

Hall said there will be no investigation of Banister.

“When there is employee discipline, I do initiate an investigation first. I just don’t see that in this case,” he said. “There will be no investigation of our dog warden nor termination as a result of this issue. It is about record keeping.”

The county is currently working on a letter to the OEPA outlining the desire to be in full compliance with all regulations, Hall said.