Iowa Man Fined $80,000 For Violating Environmental Rules

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A northwest Iowa man has been ordered to pay an $80,000 fine for burning thousands of railroad ties on his property despite being told it would violate the law.

The Iowa Attorney General's office said Wednesday that John Goldsmith, of Sergeant Bluff, also was warned he could face contempt charges and possible jail time if he violated solid waste and open burning laws again. The $80,000 fine was the maximum penalty allowed.

The DNR had issued seven violation notices to Goldsmith since 2000, and sued him in 2020 after he burned the railroad ties.

The agency said in its lawsuit that Goldsmith called a DNR employee on Aug. 7, 2018, to say he planned to burn some of the estimated 30,000 railroad ties on his property because it would cost more than his land was worth to dispose of them properly.

Goldsmith also barricaded his property to prevent firefighters and local authorities from getting on the site and fighting the fire.

The fire burned from Aug. 11 to Aug. 14.