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Pielet Bros. Trad., Inc. v. Poll. Cont. Bd

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 12, 1982.

PIELET BROS. TRADING, INC., PETITIONER-APPELLANT,

v.

THE POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Petition for review of order of Pollution Control Board.

JUSTICE KASSERMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 335 (87 Ill.2d R. 335), respondent, Pielet Bros. Trading, Inc. (Pielet), appeals from order PCB 80-185 of the Illinois Pollution Control Board (the Board). The Environmental Protection Agency's (the Agency) complaint, dated October 2, 1980, charged Pielet with (1) operation of a solid waste management site or refuse disposal operation without a permit; (2) violation of trench use requirements; (3) violation of daily cover requirements; (4) violation of spreading and compaction requirements; (5) violation of on-site roads requirements; and (6) causing or allowing open burning. All of the alleged violations occurred prior to October 2, 1978, i.e., more than two years prior to the Agency's complaint. In Order PCB 80-185, the Board found Pielet "in violation of the [Environmental Protection] Act and the Board's rules as charged," assessed a penalty of $7,500 against Pielet, and ordered respondent to cease and desist from said violations.

On this appeal, Pielet does not contest the propriety of the Board's findings regarding the alleged violations. Instead, Pielet contends that (1) under section 21(e) of the Environmental Protection Act (the Act) as it existed at the time of the complaint and the order appealed from (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1021(e)), Pielet was exempt from requirements of obtaining a permit, and (2) under section 14 of the Limitations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 83, par. 15), the Board should not have considered evidence of violations which occurred prior to October 2, 1978.

Pielet operates an automobile shredder adjacent to the subject premises. After a junk automobile is culled for valuable components and shredded, Pielet magnetically removes most of its ferrous components for resale. The remaining refuse, or "fluff," is discarded at the site involved in this appeal. The Agency's evidence at the April 29, 1981, hearing included several photographs of the site, some of which showed piles of fluff, areas burning or smoking, and the proximity of the site to an interstate overpass. Testimony at the hearing on April 29, 1981, was in pertinent part as follows.

Agency official Patrick McCarthy testified that Pielet's permit application indicated an estimated refuse volume of 250 cubic yards per day. The witness related that on one occasion he observed seven to 10 acres of exposed shredded material at the site, composed of plastic, fiber, vinyl, foam rubber, and shiny metals.

Perry Mann, an Agency official, testified that, on one occasion, he saw the site unattended with approximately an acre of fluff on fire.

Dave Wieties, a former Agency landfill inspector, testified that on one occasion he observed seven acres of exposed shredded material at the site, about one acre of which was burning, and that on another occasion, he observed five to seven acres of exposed shredded material.

Roger Bowler, manager of the landfill, testified that Pielet accepted automobiles and appliances brought in by other people. According to Mr. Bowler, equipment at the landfill site included a crane (full-time), a 65-ton capacity dump truck (used from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily), a Caterpillar tractor capable of pushing down a building (used 18 to 30 hours a week), and a front-end loader (part-time). Mr. Bowler testified that scavengers who frequented the site in search of copper wire often started fires to remove the insulation from the copper and that Pielet employees had been unable to apprehend the scavengers.

The order appealed from indicates that the landfill is an 80-acre site.

Pielet first contends that it is exempt from permit requirements under section 21(e) of the Act, which provides in pertinent part:

"[No person shall conduct] any refuse-collection or refuse-disposal operations, except for refuse generated by the operator's own activities, without a permit * * *." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1021(e).)

The Agency argues that Pielet's operation does not qualify for this exemption because (1) it is too big an operation, (2) Pielet is disposing of environmentally harmful material, and (3) the waste is not "generated by the operator's own activities," since Pielet accepts autos and appliances which people bring in.

In finding that Pielet's landfill site did not qualify for the section 21(e) exemption, the Board concluded that this exemption "`only exempts minor amounts of refuse which could be disposed of without environmental harm upon the site where it was generated,'" citing Environmental Protection Agency v. City of Pontiac (1975), 18 Ill. P.C.B. Op. 303, Reynolds Metals Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency (Aug. 20, 1981, and Nov. 19, 1981) 44 Ill. P.C.B. Op. 55, 57, and R.E. Joos Excavating Co. v. Pollution Control Board (1978), 58 Ill. App.3d 309, 374 N.E.2d 486. The Board noted the size of the site (80 acres), the daily volume estimate (250 cubic yards), the inflammability of the fluff and the numerous on-site fires, and the metallic content of the fluff, with a "resulting potential for leachate when deposited in water, as it has been."

• 1 In the usual course of events it is unnecessary to look beyond the language of the statute to learn the legislative intent, but when differing interpretations are proffered, legislative intent must be gathered not only from the language used, but also from the reasons for the enactment and the purposes to be thereby attained. (R.E. Joos Excavating Co. v. Pollution Control Board.) Rules of construction are useful only where there is doubt as to the meaning of a statute, and a court may not alter that meaning beyond the clear import of the language employed therein. (Sickler v. National Dairy Products Corp. (1977), 67 Ill.2d 229, 235; see Schoellkopf v. DeVry (1937), 366 Ill. 39, 49, 7 N.E.2d 757, 762.) We find the legislature's reference to refuse "generated" by the operator's own "activities" ...


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