BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Up to eight employees at the Billings Regional Landfill could be fired or suspended after authorities say they took home large amounts of electronics, sporting goods, rifles and other items that were supposed to be disposed of after being damaged in a railroad derailment.

Criminal acts did not occur, but removing the items from the city-owned landfill violated city policies, police and the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office told the Billings Gazette in a story published Saturday (

Public Works Director Dave Mumford said employees sort items for recycling but are not allowed to remove anything from the landfill.

"We are going to be disciplining employees for what occurred because it does violate our policies and our trust," he said.

On July 17 a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway freight train derailed near Glasgow, throwing 17 cars off the tracks and strewing general merchandise across the landscape. A week later 11 dump trucks hauled items that couldn't be salvaged to the landfill.

"A lot of the material was very good stuff — electronics, cameras, sporting goods, clothing, bedding materials," Mumford said. "It's not excusing them by any means, but on the other hand there was quite a temptation laying there in front of them."

The items were being shipped by UPS. After the derailment, they were taken to Billings to be sorted into what could and couldn't be salvaged.

Dan McMackin, a UPS spokesman in Atlanta, said electronics might look undamaged, but if they were in a boxcar that rolled they couldn't be delivered to an electronics store. He said other items might have been in packages that burst open, making it impossible to determine where they were to be delivered.

Video cameras recorded landfill workers exiting the front gate with personal vehicles filled with goods. Mumford said some of the activity took place after hours, another policy violation.

Mumford said "numerous pickup loads" were hauled away, with several employees returning for a second load.


Information from: Billings Gazette,