The city of Portland has won more than $90,000 in fines and compensation after Honey Bucket employees allegedly dumped portable toilets into the city's sewer system and repeatedly clogged a pumping station with "clothing, construction materials and hypodermic needles in April," Street Roots reported.
But the company blamed the dumping on "homeless folks."
Jams at the Rivergate Pump Station threatened to cause the sewer system to overflow into natural wetlands areas.
The city was able to identify the problem, because the day the clogs first began was the day a Honey Bucket facility, with a new city permit, first emptied waste into the sewer, Street Roots reported.
“That was the big smoking gun,” said Dan Parnell, Bureau of Environmental Services industrial permitting manager. Over the course of 10 days, the only day the city’s sewer pump didn’t jam was the only day Honey Bucket didn’t discharge wastewater, according to city documents obtained through a records request.
The city found a hole cut in a screen that protects the sewer system at the site where Honey Buckets get emptied into the sewer, according to the city's investigation.
At an administrative hearing the company blamed homeless people dumping into manhole covers between their dump site and the pumping station.
"I know that one of the theories put forward by the investigators that's in the record is it was, you know, homeless folks or other people dumping stuff down manholes," the lawyer for Northwest Cascade, the company that owns Honey Bucket, argued, according to the Street Roots account.
Northwest Cascade is appealing the decision from the hearing officer.
"The evidence presented at the Hearing will demonstrate that the City of Portland is drawing the wrong conclusion from purely circumstantial evidence," reads the company's statement of appeal. "The City observed a correlation between a small slit cut at the top of a screen at a dumping station and failures at the Rivergate Pump Station, and concluded without a proper investigation that the slit must be the source of the pump station failures."
Read the full Street Roots story here.