Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It’s been a rotten couple of months for the region’s largest garbage hauler.
In September, Sonoma County rejected the North Bay Corp.’s request to operate a regional recycling center in Santa Rosa, upping the stakes in the standoff over the company’s unpermitted Standish Avenue facility.
Then earlier this month, Santa Rosa informed the company that it faces $13.4 million in potential fines from years of alleged contract violations.
While neither action is final, combined they illustrate the increasingly uphill and expensive battle North Bay owner Jim Ratto faces as he struggles to keep his garbage and recycling empire intact.
Company officials say Ratto will need to invest at least $4.5 million to upgrade one of North Bay’s two Santa Rosa recycling centers, both of which have operated for more than a year despite a cease-and-desist order from the county Department of Environmental Health.
To date, the county has fined Ratto $496,500 for running facilities that, because more than 10 percent of the material they take in is not recyclable, need a solid waste permit.
The upgrades, expected to begin next month, will force the company to halt operations for several months and haul recyclable material to other counties while the work is completed, said Eric Koenigshofer, vice president of special projects for the company.
“When we’re all done we’ll have a brand new sorting line and that will make a huge difference,” Koenigshofer said.