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Corner Square Shopping Center owner wants answers after tires illegally dumped on his property

4 months 3 hours 12 minutes ago Thursday, March 21 2024 Mar 21, 2024 March 21, 2024 4:36 PM March 21, 2024 in News

BATON ROUGE - A mound of 80 tires was dumped onto one shopping center owner's property, and he's been forced to cough up almost $4,000 to clean up a mess that isn't his.

Khai Hong, the property owner of the Corner Square Shopping Center off of Florida Boulevard, purchased the shopping center three years ago. When he first took over the property, he was given a welcome gift of a mound of tires dumped onto his property — that gift ended up costing him $750. Tires were again dumped onto his property two years later, costing him another $750. After the second time, Baton Rouge Police recommended Hong purchase a security camera system, so he did. 

But it hasn't made a difference.

Hong's security cameras picked up a Toyota Tundra truck illegally dumping a trailer-full of tires in broad daylight on March 12.

"I got his license plate, I got the video clip of him dumping and I have a witness," Hong said, frustrated. "But the police say there's really no crime committed, so (there's) nothing (more) they can do."

It is a crime to illegally dump tires in Louisiana, with a fine of up to $32,500 per day, per violation, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Dumping tires creates an environmental hazard when toxins and hazardous wastes are released, and if set ablaze, the smoke from tires contains toxic chemicals and can worsen existing respiratory conditions. Tires also contain oils that contaminate soil and also contain heavy metals like lead.

"It's an eyesore, you know, and then after the first time with the city, I don't want to have problems with the neighbor," Hong said. "I want this property to look good."

After tires were first dumped three years ago, Hong said he received a letter from the City-Parish telling him to clean up the tires. One of the neighbors behind the shopping center set up a black tarp over her fence to avoid the eyesore of the tires. The neighbor said she feels bad for Hong because she's not sure what else he can do to prevent tires from being dumped.

"They say, you know, 'You should install camera,'" Hong said as he did exactly what police recommended he should do. "I caught the guy, but the police say there's nobody dying, so there's nothing they can do more."

In 2023, more than 257 calls were made to 311 for dumped debris and tires. This year alone, 30 calls have been made.

The truck's plates were located in Zachary but do not belong to the current owner. Hong said he's frustrated because he's done everything he has been told to do, yet his problem is not getting solved.

"It's all the way in Zachary, but you know, it's not my job to go there," Hong said. "They didn't provide me the address, and I don't want to go there and confront that."

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is working the case with the DEQ, and authorities said they have reason to believe a tire-related company is paying someone to dump the tires. Hong said if he finds who the truck belongs to, he plans to sue. At the end of the day, the property owner just wants to be reimbursed, and he also wants answers.

"One of the guys (police) say it's not (in) his jurisdiction," Hong said. "When I talk to another police officer, the other police officer say(s), 'If you (are) a Baton Rouge officer, the whole city is under your jurisdiction. It contradicts every time somebody come(s) and (when) I need (an) answer."

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