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Cleanup efforts have begun on contaminated Marion property

Posted at 9:36 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 11:27:37-04

MARION – A Marion man was arrested on Monday and charged with two misdemeanor counts after failing to appear in court over junk and solid waste hoarding.

Shasta Steinweden with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says after years of failure to clean up the junk and solid waste, a Flathead District Court judge awarded the DEQ permission to clean up the contaminated Marion site belonging to Michael Linstead.

Since Linstead was unable and unwilling to clean up his property, DEQ funded through various licenses and media is paying Missouri River Contractors $275,000 for the cleanup efforts.

While none of the money will come out of the taxpayer’s wallet, Steinweden told MTN News this is the worst case she’s ever seen in her position at the DEQ.

“It’s not like anything I’ve personally ever seen before, (we get) junk vehicle complaints this one was the worst I’ve ever seen,” says Steinweden.

Marion Junk Yard
The DEQ and other agencies have stepped in to clear a lot in Marion after a landowner disobeyed a court order to clean it himself. (photo credit: Rick Saaca)

Steinweden made it clear that Linstead never had a permit to operate a junkyard or burn trash on his property.

Linstead will be charged $60,000 but Steinweden tells us the company that is recycling the metals found on Linstead’s property are using some of the costs to offset Linstead’s fine.

Pacific Steel and Recycling is buying the recycled metal off of the site and that money will go towards paying Linstead’s $60,000 fine.

Margarite Thomas with the DEQ has been working on this case for eight years. She tells MTN it’s been an arduous process.

“I calculated the penalty and we went before the judge and we presented our case and gave him another sixty days to clean it up,” explained Thomas.

Thomas says this was back in March and within those sixty days Linstead did nothing to fix his property.

After solid waste and metals are cleared, recycled and taken to Flathead County landfill, the DEQ will remove the contaminated soil.

However, the DEQ will continue to monitor Linstead’s property and if it becomes overrun with junk and solid waste, the DEQ will return and decontaminate the site again.