KCTV5 uncovers city workers dumping tons of asphalt meant for ro - KCTV5

KCTV5 uncovers city workers dumping tons of asphalt meant for roads

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KCTV5 discovered a half dozen dump sites spread across about ten miles of northern Wyandotte County with asphalt spewing over guardrails. (KCTV5) KCTV5 discovered a half dozen dump sites spread across about ten miles of northern Wyandotte County with asphalt spewing over guardrails. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Every spring, changing temperatures in Kansas City reveal pesky potholes that damage wheels and pose danger to local roadways.

They’re filled and fixed with asphalt called ‘hot’ and ‘cold patch.' Tons of the asphalt that could be patching the pavement is going to waste, illegally dumped and discarded in places you would never expect by people you would never expect.

KCTV5’s investigation into the Unified Government of Wyandotte County revealed public works employees have been illegally dumping asphalt on private property instead of using it all to fill potholes.

Donald Long’s wooded estate in northern Wyandotte County sits on about 14 acres of untouched nature, except for the tons of asphalt dumped on it.

“There’s at least ten tons of crap in there,” said 88-year-old Long.

KCTV5 combed Long’s property for hours, uncovering chunks of asphalt hidden beneath the leaves.

“They knew I couldn’t do anything,” said Long. “I didn’t have the money, wasn’t young enough to do anything about it.”

Long has been writing the city about the mess for years. He says it started back in the 1990s.

“It looked to me like they dumped it right from the highway and just rolled it on down there,” said Long.

That means the city is breaking their own ordinance against unlawful dumping.

Sec. 31-12.- Unlawful Dumping.

(a)   “It shall be unlawful for any person to deposit, throw, place or leave any garbage, trash or waste material upon any street, court, alley, public square, public enclosure, yard, vacant lot, body of water, or any place, except in a disposal unit, incinerator or can required for that purpose, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”

After Long showed KCTV5 News how the asphalt wrecked his land, we searched for more evidence of government waste.

KCTV5 discovered a half dozen dump sites spread across about ten miles of northern Wyandotte County with asphalt spewing over guardrails, useless roads leading to nowhere covered in fresh blacktop and an entire hillside covered with the hardened concrete-like material.

KCTV5 wanted to know why the asphalt was being wasted and why it is not being used to fill potholes to make roads smoother and safer.

A current Wyandotte County street division employee, who wanted his identity to remain anonymous to protect his job, came forward.

"By 10:45 or 11 (a.m.), we’re looking for anywhere to dump this patch (asphalt) so we can go to lunch,” he said.

The whistleblower revealed to KCTV5 how the operation works.

He says, every time a street crew hits the road, they’re required to purchase at least two tons of asphalt at a plant near Interstate 435 and Wolcott Road, even if they only need a quarter ton. They’re filling up their trucks with as much as eight times what they really need to get the job done on any given day.

"We only use about a quarter of a ton and we end up dumping a ton and three quarters before lunch," the whistleblower said.

The county industrial dump is at North 47th Street and Orville Avenue in Kansas City, KS. People can’t see what’s going on inside without a helicopter. Chopper5 revealed the massive site where asphalt gets thrown away like trash.

The street division whistleblower said all the extra asphalt county employees are forced to purchase is buried and covered with dirt. Or, if crews are too far away from the dump, he says, the black tar is oozed onto private property like Long’s.

“City, too much red tape,” sighed Long.

He’s been trying to get answers from the Unified Government for years. However, he can’t afford a legal battle.

KCTV5 took our findings and our video to Wyandotte County Public Works director Mike Tobin.

“There should not be employees dumping asphalt on private property,” said Tobin.

Picture after picture, KCTV5 revealed their findings to the director.

“I am sorry, Josh, I did not know this,” he told KCTV5’s Josh Marshall.

KCTV5 dug deeper, calculating two years worth of pothole asphalt purchases, based on public records. The city has spent $59,699.02 on all that asphalt. The property damage is more difficult to add up.

The street division whistleblower said employees are told by their supervisors to get at least two tons of asphalt no matter how much they need to complete a job.

Tobin says he was unaware of the supervisor imposed requirement. The county is unable to store extra, unused asphalt because it will harden, rendering it useless.

Dumping the excess at the landfill is common practice in most metro municipalities. However, buying too much and dumping it on private property has created both a financial and environmental mess, along with real distrust in government by the people it is supposed to serve.

“He (Unified Government attorney) admitted they dumped it,” said Long. “It was their material, but he wasn’t going to admit moving it out of there.”

“One of the things we do, that I’ll do now is I’ll pull all those supervisors and division managers and go over what they’re doing with this,” said Tobin. “I’ll go look at these addresses myself.”

Tobin recorded a half dozen addresses KCTV5 uncovered and he’s starting his investigation into why his department has been deliberately wasting asphalt and dumping it on private property.

KCTV5 contacted the Environmental Protection Agency that oversees Wyandotte County about potential environmental effects of asphalt being dumped on private property. A spokesman told KCTV5 that they are unlikely to investigate.

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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