Iowa attorney general alleges Belle Plaine resident illegally burned items containing asbestos

By Marian Johns | Nov 13, 2018

DES MOINES — An Iowa resident faces a lawsuit by the state for the alleged illegal burning of items containing asbestos near a residential area, despite his request to burn being denied by county fire officials, the Iowa Attorney General's Office said. 

Joel Thys of Belle Plaine, Iowa, is being sued by the state of Iowa for putting residents in danger after he allegedly burned a pile of trailer homes and debris that contained asbestos. According to the Attorney General's Office, Thys burned a 20-foot pile of trees and five trailer homes on his property near the car dealership he owns. 

The state says Thys burned the pile even after receiving a warning that he was not permitted to burn. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as well as Iowa OSHA alleges Thys' fire continued to smoke and smolder for several weeks after the burn and resulted in releasing asbestos into the air that was found through air testing. 

As a result of the Thys' alleged illegal burning, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has filed a petition in equity in the Iowa District Court in Benton County seeking $15,000 per day in civil penalties for violations of asbestos disposal regulations. These mark the third charges against Thys by the DNR for illegal burning, Miller's office said. 

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