RICHMOND, Ind. — The city of Richmond’s position on the industrial plastic recycling company My-Way Trading appears consistent: Officials have wanted the business to clean up the property it operates on for years.
Mayor David Snow pinned the blame for the still burning fire squarely on the business, “The business owner is responsible for this mess, responsible for the disaster and responsible for putting everyone in danger.”
My-Way Trading is in the 300-block of NW F Street, just a three-minute drive from Richmond City Hall.
In 2019, My-Way Trading was under the scrutiny of the city’s Unsafe Buildings Commission. Minutes from a September meeting indicates an array of city departments were unhappy with the cluttered nature of the property.
The business recycles industrial plastic and has shipped loads of it to countries around the globe.
But a series of pictures presented in the meeting documented the accumulating pallets of plastic waste and other problems.
Richmond Deputy Fire Chief Doug Gardner noted an “excessive amount of plastic materials stored in and around the building.” Gardner added many of the stacks of plastic were unstable and several had fallen over.
Building Commissioner Aaron Jordan told the commission the building’s roof leaked allowing rain to reach boxes stacked to the ceiling and calling the situation a fire hazard.
Business owner Seth Smith acknowledged the situation had gotten “out of control” but added he had a plan to clean-up the site.
The Commission originally have Smith 30 days to eliminate fire hazards on the property. In October, Smooth was given an addition 60-day extension.
The following month, Smith sued the city claiming it did not have the legal authority to issue the clean-up order. Ultimately, the court affirmed the city’s authority.
But clearly, the situation has lingered. While search engine satellite images suggest there had been some progress in removing at least some of the plastic waste, the photos also show pallets stacked outside the buildings on the property.
There are also questions about the financial stability of My-Way Trading. In 2016, the company sought federal bankruptcy protection, claiming its assets and liabilities were both between a half-million and one-million dollars. That bankruptcy case was concluded two years later.
Efforts to contact the city attorney, Smith and his attorney for comment were unsuccessful.