KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Facing a legal threat from the city of Knoxville, operators of a North Knoxville recycling center that burned for days in 2019 have paid more than $5,000 in fines to cover violation notices.
Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling, 2742 Hancock St., left a check Thursday with the city for $5,096, records show.
David Brace, chief operating officer for the city, told 10News last week Knoxville's law department was prepared to sue Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling in Knox County Chancery Court for four notices of violation.
The city issued the notices because the struggling firm had failed to secure a special pollution abatement permit to resume operations. Brace said Knoxville officials have conducted numerous inspections of the site and verified that it has continued to take in recycling materials, even though it lacked the abatement permit.
Brace, deputy to Mayor Indya Kincannon, confirmed Monday the business still must secure the permit if it wants to operate.
City engineers are concerned about runoff from the site. Neighbors also say they fear what area residents may have been exposed to as a result of the fire.
Records show the business has struggled for years to pay bills. It owed more than $350,000 in unpaid city and county taxes at the time of the fire.
Brace said the city recovered its share last year after an insurance settlement following the fire.
It currently faces $8,476 in unpaid city property taxes from 2018 and $17,338 for 2019. It also owes $5,133 in unpaid city tangible taxes for 2019, records show.
Fort Loudon Waste at one point had a demolition permit, but that now has lapsed, Brace said. If they want to continue clearing the site of the fire-damaged buildings, they'll need to get a new permit.
WBIR has been unable to reach Eddie Bales, principal at the firm, for comment. He signed the Feb. 27 check.
Fort Loudon Waste still owes the state of Tennessee for unpaid fines, according to Chris Cannon, assistant administrator of the communications division of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
In March 2018, TOSHA assessed a penalty of $15,300 after an inspection. The business paid $1,530 in April 2018, according to Cannon.
With late fees and interest accrual, it today owes $20,220, according to Cannon.
TOSHA also assessed another penalty of $5,700 in June 2018 after an inspection. The balance on that penalty is now $8,257, according to Cannon.
"TOSHA has not taken any other inspection activity against Fort Loudon Waste and Recycling," Cannon told 10News.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation inspected the site after the fire. From TDEC's perspective, there have been no new developments, according to spokeswoman Kim Schofinski.