Whistleblower Claims Company Buried Hazardous Waste In Forest

Forest Service Paid Idaho Firm $8,800 To Remove Outhouse Debris

A former employee of Idaho-based Eagle Feather Construction Company is blowing the whistle on that firm, accusing it of burying outhouse debris laced with chemicals and human waste in a pristine meadow of the Roosevelt National Forest.

Douglas Harding told 7NEWS that Eagle Feather built four new outhouses on forest service property about 40 miles west of Fort Collins last summer.

He said the old outhouses were demolished and the debris was supposed to be removed from forest service property, but wasn’t.

“The project manager assigned me to dig the holes,” Harding said. “We put all the wood structures in the holes and burned as much as possible, then covered it up.”

When asked why his boss told him to do that, Harding replied, “It was to save money. It comes down to the dollar bill.”

Forest Service spokeswoman Reghan Cloudman said the allegations were brought to their attention Sunday.

“We’re investigating it from a law enforcement and contract standpoint,” Cloudman said.

She added that the contract called for Eagle Feather to be paid more than $8,800 to remove the old outhouses.

“We don’t want anyone burying things on Forest Service land,” Cloudman said. “It’s definitely something we take seriously and something we definitely want to look into.”

Harding said he didn’t think burying the hazardous material was right, but he went along with it because it was his job.

“Then I got to thinking there might be other companies doing the same thing,” he said. “So I decided to come forward.”

He told the environmental group Confluence Media Collective what happened.

Confluence Media Collective notified 7NEWS.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jacob Richards, a member of the environmental group, “these holes go about 15 feet deep.”

Richards said his group was planning to dig up all the debris. He said once the Forest Service was notified, they asked them to stop.

Harding said some of the debris was never buried and still poses a danger. Pointing to some broken up concrete and rebar, Harding said, “That’s an underground vault from one of the outhouses. If a child got on here and was impaled by one of these rebar, what would be the repercussions? Who would you point the finger at?”

Neighbors who live near the meadow are concerned about more than rebar.

“I’m concerned about water quality,” said Grizz Costello, who maintains a water diversion tunnel for the Tunnel Water Company. “The Laramie River is just a few feet away. We send some of that water to farmers east of Fort Collins.”

Costello says he can’t help but wonder how much bacteria and chemicals have ended up in the river.

Pat Timmins, owner of the Rawah Ranch, told 7NEWS, “This was a blatant disregard of our home up here. That’s how we feel about it, even though our property is a little bit down river.”

When asked what action might be taken against the company, Cloudman said, “It’s too early to know.”

She said, “We’ve just begun our investigation. We still have to talk to the company’s owner.”

“I would like to see the company nailed to the wall,” Costello said. “This is ridiculous.”

The owner of Eagle Feather Construction has not yet responded to a request for comment.

A woman who answered the phone at the company’s headquarters said the owner was in Colorado, and only had intermittent cellphone service.”

Harding alleges that the owner, Stephanie Anderson, signed off on the plan to bury the hazardous material.

The woman who answered the phone said she didn’t know anything about that, but added that she was surprised by the allegations.

Cloudman said the debris will be cleaned up.

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