SHERIDAN — During the week of July 29, trespassers were observed at the site of the former Acme Power Plant, which is currently owned by the Sheridan County Conservation District. The Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office issued citations to two individuals at the site Aug. 2. Identities for individuals on other days have not been determined. The Sheridan County Conservation District is working closely with the Sheriff’s Office to investigate the trespassing and will continue to monitor the site. SCSO is asking the community to report any suspicious activity in a timely manner by calling dispatch at 307-672-2413.

Trespassers have caused significant, additional property damage, District Manager of the Sheridan County Conservation District Carrie Rogaczewski said. 

“Site conditions are hazardous and it is frustrating to have to deal with these additional issues,” Rogaczewski said. “Going into this project, we understood that it would take a long time to clean up the site. We are trying to tackle things piece by piece, but because of the condition, there are certain federal and state processes that must be followed.”

The site itself is extremely dangerous. The building, which trespassers entered by breaking through doors and windows, is full of asbestos and other serious physical and health hazards. Asbestos fibers from the site can be picked up on clothes and inhaled by anyone the trespasser visits after leaving the site. Several health complications, including lung cancer, can be caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, even with a single exposure. Many of the symptoms won’t develop until several years later.

Anyone accessing the site can track contaminants to surrounding areas. Opening (or breaking down) doorways and windows in the building allow the asbestos fibers to be blown outside. In short, trespassers are not only putting themselves and others at risk, they are creating more pathways for asbestos and other contaminants to leave the site.

In addition to the safety and environmental risks associated with the trespassing, it is also a matter of respect.

“This is private property and folks that are trespassing are breaking the law and we will work to prosecute them. It is that simple,” Rogaczewski said. 

For more information and updates on the Acme Power Plant Reclamation effort, please visit the project website or contact the Sheridan County Conservation District.