ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The state Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating reports that Katmai Lodge improperly disposes of kitchen waste by dumping it into the salmon-rich Alagnak River.
''All the kitchen waste was thrown into buckets and tossed into the river. You also had paper products, plastics, rubber gloves, the whole nine yards, in there. On any given day there were anywhere from 10 to 20 buckets dumped into the river. It was deplorable,'' said Rick Irwin, who worked as a maintenance man for part of last summer before quitting.
The food waste should have been taken to a burn barrel for incineration but it wasn't, said former chef Craig Markowski.
The former employees who allege the waste mishandling have filed or were preparing to file unrelated wage and hour complaints against the lodge.
Lodge owner Tony Sarp does not deny that food waste from the lodge's restaurant goes into the same river that his clients fish.
''We do dump waste in the river, but it's ground-up food,'' Sarp said.
It's done with the sanction of the DEC, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he said.
But state environmental officials say food waste, ground up or otherwise, never is allowed to be disposed of in a river.
''All of the remote lodges are required to incinerate their kitchen waste,'' Laura Ogar, a DEC environmental health official, told the Anchorage Daily News.
Katmai Lodge's solid waste permit does not allow it to dump kitchen waste or any other kind of waste into the river, said Susan Bulkow, DEC drinking and wastewater coordinator.
Sarp said food waste doesn't burn and it attracts bears when placed in a landfill.
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