Illegally dumping waste in Kennewick costs big

Illegally dumping waste in Kennewick costs big »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. - It took Kennewick a year to solve the stinky mess in sewers around Southridge.

The city kept finding backups like this in a drain that shouldn't have been used often. After a few weeks, a public works employee borrowed his kid's video camera and hung it from a light pole to find out what was going on.

It paid off. John Liniger pulled up his work truck and unloaded the sewage right into the street. He owns Sunshine Portable Toilets.

He was caught red-handed and had little choice but to plead guilty. The heaviest sentence was a felony from the Federal Government. Liniger was put on 15 months of house arrest. He can only go to church and to work. He'll need to earn money to pay back restitution and fines.

The Benton-Franklin Health Department didn't take away his operating permit but he's got to follow the letter of the law.

Liniger had an approved site in Finley where he couple have dumped the waste.

This is a first for the Tri-Cities. KEPR asked Rick Dawson, the supervisor of the land use, sewage and water section of the health department, "Have you seen anything like this case in your time here with the department?"

His reply, "Not that got charged federally. We've seen revocations and suspensions of permits that we do, that are pretty minor cases, where we take things to court and people get fined under our codes which generally are misdemeanors, but taken to a federal level, no.

To keep my story balanced, I tried talking to Liniger. KEPR went to his house.

He came to the door and locked it but didn't want to answer it. We have no choice but to just take his silence as a statement.

KEPR also tried calling Sunshine Portable Toilet Company. The man who answered said he'd give Liniger the message.

For now, this case of the stench in Kennewick is officially closed.

Liniger owes close to $50,000 in restitution and fines, including close to $8000 Kennewick paid in taxpayer dollars to clean up the mess.