Rolling Hills strikes out again, Judge rules in favor of FDEP

Circuit Judge John Miller has ruled that the South Palafox Properties must pay $38,000 in costs and penalties for its violations at the Rolling Hills C&D facility. The breakdown is as follows:

l. Exceeding surface water quality standards – $6,000.00;
2. Failure to timely implement RAP – $5,000.00;
3. Failure to provide adequate financial assurance to implement corrective action system – $1,000.00;
4. Failure to provide adequate financial assurance for closure and long term care of the facility – $1,000.00;
5. Failure to timely implement a plan to alleviate objectionable odors – $10,000.00;
6. Disposal of unauthorized waste – $2,000.00;
7. Failure to remove unauthorized waste – $2,000.00;
8. Disposal of waste outside its permitted dimensions – $8,000.00;
9. Enforcement costs sought by the Department – $3,000.00.

SPP shall continue to perform remediation of the groundwater contamination present at the Facility in accordance with the Remedial Action Plan. Within 60 days of the rendition of the Final Judgment, SPP shall complete full and proper construction of the remedial action system. Within 60 days of completing the construction, SPP shall submit the required as-built certification for the remedial action system to FDEP.

Upon completion of construction, SPP shall operate it, including but not limited to all timely completing all required sampling event. If the sampling events indicate that the remedial action system is not functioning as intended, SPP shall submit to the Departrnent a proposed Remedial Action Plan modification to address any issues revealed.

Within 90 days of FDEP notification of the approved cost estimate for closure of the Facility in its current condition, SPP shall supplement the existing financial assurance amount for closure to increase it to the amount of the cost estimate for closure of the facility in its current condition approved by the Department. Within 60 days from the rendition of the Final Judgment, SPP shall supplement its financial assurance for long-term care to reflect current site conditions at the Facility by obtaining the required increases for 2015 and 2016.

SPP cannot accept any more debris or waste. It must make the facility open and available for FDEP and its contractors. It must aintain the stormwater system for a minimum of five years from the date final closure is completed.

SPP shall complete under oath Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977 (Fact Information Sheet), including all required attachments, and serve it on the Department’s attorney, at Douglas Building, MS #35 in Tallahassee, within 60 days from the effective date of the Final Judgment, unless the Final Judgment is satisfied or post-judgment discovery is stayed. Failure to complete Form 1.977 as ordered may be considered contempt of court.

Read Order


In June 2014, Inweekly published “A Shame Before God” which interviewed families in the Wedgewood community that complained about odors and dust coming for the mounds of debris that towered over the neighborhood in the Rolling Hills landfill.

June-26-coverCommissioner Lumon May and State Rep. Mike Hill toured all the landfills and borrow pits that surrounded the area with the media.

On July 31, 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a Notice of Violation alleging South Palafox Properties, owner of the facility had violated permit conditions and rules that govern the operation of the facility.

These alleged violations included violations of surface water quality standards; failure to provide adequate financial assurance for closure and long term care of the facility; failure to provide adequate financial assurance for corrective action required by the Remedial Action Plan; failure to timely take steps to reduce objectionable odors and failure to timely implement a routine odor monitoring program; accepting unauthorized waste and failure to remove unauthorized waste; and an allegation that the facility was operating outside its permitted dimensions.

FDEP sought to close the facility and revoke its permit.

South Palafox requested an administrative hearing. After hearing the evidence, Administrative Law Judge D. R. Alexander found that South Palafox had committed numerous violations of the permit conditions and rules that govern the operation of the facility. The Administrative Law Judge recommended that the Department enter a final order revoking South Palafox’s C & D Permit and ordered the facility to be closed.

On May 29, 2015, the FDEP Secretary Jonathan P. Steverson entered a Final Order, which adopted the Recommended Order in its entirety. The Final Order revoked South Palafox’s Operating Permit and ordered the facility be closed in accordance with Florida Administrative Code Rule 62-701.730(9XB).

DEP filed a Complaint for Assessment of Civil Penalties as well as an Amended Petition for Enforcement and Injunctive Relief. On September 4, 2015, the Court entered an Order finding that the factual issues in this action are identical to those that were litigated in the administrative proceeding and that the parties had a full and fair opportunity to present evidence on the facts and to litigate the legal issues fully.

The Court ruled that the Defendant is collaterally estopped from relitigating the facts and issues litigated in the administrative proceedings. This Court adopted the factual findings of the Administrative Law Judge and determined that the only matters left for this Court to determine are civil penalties and enforcement/injunctive relief.

South Palafox was required to provide financial assurance in the amount of $566,325.85 on or before October 31, 2013. As of the present date, South Palafox has never provided the required financial assurance, in violation of Rule 62.701.730(11)(c), Florida Administrative Code and the Permit.

On March 31, 2015, FDEP approved the 2015 costs estimates for closure and long term care of the facility. The costs estimates approved by FDEP for closure were $661,407.54, and for long term care was $205,353.63. South Palafox has never obtained financial assurance for 2015. South Palafox has not provided financial assurance for closure of the facility and long term care for the year 2016. The costs estimates for 2016 have yet to be submitted by South Palafox.

South Palafox was ordered to submit a Permit Application for Closure and Long Term Care within thirty (30) days of the date of the Final Order, and to complete closure within one hundred eighty (180) days of obtaining the Permit for Closure and Long Term Care of the facility. South Palafox has yet to submit a Permit Application for Closure and Long Term Care of the facility.