Dump workers investigated for bringing work home

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 21 at 7:20 PM

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, and apparently some are taking that a bit too literally in Tacoma.

Sources tell KING 5 that workers at the city landfill are under investigation for dumping their own trash for free and taking home other people's trash to sell or use for themselves.

The sources say it's a situation that may have been going on for years, and some supervisors may be involved.

Tacoma’s director of environmental services, Michael Slevin, says he won't stand for a tarnished reputation at the dump.

"If someone thinks a transgression is OK, I'm not buying that," said Selvin.

Full internal and third-party investigations are now under way. If the claims are substantiated, workers could be fired.

Some, however, feel the city is making a big stink about nothing at the transfer station.

"I think it's silly. I really do," said Sonia Arizpe, as she tossed junk from her garage onto the heap Friday afternoon. "If the public doesn't want it, and someone can clean it up and use it, I'm all for that."

"I think it should just be a perk of the job," added Milt Prescott, unloading a pick-up truck full of yard waste. "I wouldn’t want to do this job. Let them have the benefit."
 
Selvin, however, said it’s a matter of ethics for people working for the public.

"Where do you draw the line? The ethics policy is very clear. You don't benefit from your service to the citizens," he said.
 
Currently, at least two workers are on paid administrative leave while they are being investigated, but sources say many more people are likely involved. The city is trying to determine exactly how much money was lost by workers dumping their trash for free.

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