DENVER – There were more trailers full of electronic waste delivered to a Canon City prison than was first reported. News 5 received public records Tuesday from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment which showed five semi-trailers of waste were hauled from the East Canon Correctional Complex in May. We reported last week that two trailers were delivered to the Colorado Minimum Center, which is one of the prisons in the East Canon Complex, in December.
The illegal dumping was first exposed in a lawsuit filed last week by a whistleblower inside the Department of Corrections. Angel Medina is a warden who used to work at the Colorado Minimum Center. He sued the state seeking the release of reports written by agents with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation who looked into his claim that he was being retaliated against by DOC Executive Director Rick Raemisch for speaking out over the dumping.
In his lawsuit, Medina indicated his suspicion that Raemisch was self-dealing through the waste program as a favor for his friend a Paul Moltz. Moltz is a board member for the Chaffee County Economic Develop Corporation and reportedly let Raemisch use his land and cabins for hunting excursions.
Inspectors with the CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials Waste Management Division visited the prison in April and notified Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI) that they were in violation of state law for improperly storing the electronic waste.
CCI Director Dennis Dunsmoor told the inspectors that the waste deliveries were part of a pilot program between his agency, Chaffee County, and the town of Buena Vista intended to reduce illegal dumping of electronic waste in the County.
The prison had not applied for any permits establishing the prison as a solid waste disposal facility or a registered recycling facility. So, Dunsmoor was given 60 days to remove the waste and send it to a registered facility.
Old computer monitors and TV sets are considered pollution hazards because they contain cathode ray tubes which have high concentrations of lead. State law prohibits their disposal at public landfills.
The five trailer loads of electronic waste were shipped to Metech Recycling in Denver and to Blue Star Recycling location in Colorado Springs and Denver.
The Department of Corrections was not fined over the violation. However, attorney Bill Finger who is representing Medina in his open records suit said in a news release that he estimated the cost to taxpayers to haul away all that electric junk totaled more than $100,000.