Hacker Creek Property Seized by Clean-Up Company
Jim Crook of Northcoast Environmental Construction on the Hacker Creek Property last year
Several days ago, Northcoast Environmental Engineering seized the property where the 500-1000 gallon diesel spill at an illegal marijuana grow occurred last May. Part owner Jim Crook explained, ” This is the first time in 18 years of going down there I’ve gotten stuck [with the cost of cleanup].” His small firm has put in months of work cleaning the creek and its surrounds at a cost of $250,000. Crook explained that the stress of being unable to collect the money from property owner Albert Tordjman had “come close to making me get really sick.” Eventually, the company felt they had to hire an attorney to recoup their losses.
Crook is unsure what he and his business will do with the land. “We’ve seized the property…[Now} we have to leave it up to the attorneys and the accountants.” At the moment, “we’ll probably just go ahead and finish cleanup” of the remaining booms, pads, etc…. One of our people will probably stay there.” He hastens to reassure the community, “We don’t want to stick our nose in anything.” He adds, “We’re probably going to keep it…” but they just haven’t decided.
He is worried about how they will deal with the debt they accrued. “We have to pay off that $250,000 [but] we’ll survive ’cause we’re a little guy and we don’t give up.”
Although the county and State Water Board has yet to put a hold on the property, they too, have expenses and fines they had planned to recoup from Tordjman. According to Jeff Poel with Humboldt County’s Division of Environmental Health at the Dept. of Health and Human Services, “We haven’t filed a lien yet. We have to get a judgement from a court….We got some money [from Tordjman] but not all.”
When I expressed some sorrow for the owner, Poel answered without sympathy,” [Diesel growers are] taking our natural resources—air and water—and using them for profit…They are putting Carbon Dioxide into the air by burning 1000’s of hours of diesel…The pollution goes into our atmosphere…They could be putting their plants in the sun which is a net carbon sink.”
The county, the state, the neighbors, the clean-up crew, and most especially the owner have all lost a great deal from this disaster.
UPDATE: I just spoke to someone who read the posting on the property itself and reported to me that the property has not yet been actually seized. Instead, NC Environmental Engineering received a creditor’s judgment and has placed a levy on the piece which, if uncontested, will allow him to cause the property to be sold or seized or by some other means enable NCEE to collect on their judgment.
UPDATED UPDATE: According to George Rolff, the Realtor (Country Real Estate 707 923 2725), Tordjman is “still trying to pull this out of the fire.” The tests on the water have “no diesel showing” but the state isn’t willing to totally release liability in the slight case that something further happens. Banks are unwilling to lend money to purchase as long as that caveat is still on the deed. There is still a hope that a cash buyer might be able to purchase the property but the worry is that the property sale can’t cover the costs of clean-up and the incurred fines.