The man on Iron Mountain

Chuck Pillon has been living on a 10-acre junk-filled property near Renton for decades.

Charles Pillon, who usually goes by Chuck, has been living on a ten-acre property in unincorporated King County, near Renton, Washington, for decades now. He’s built it into a sprawling empire of junk—including trucks, cars, buses, boats, RVs, tires, scrap metal, lumber, cans of paint, and heaps of yard waste mixed with trash.

According to Chuck, this isn’t junk; it’s a place where old stuff can find new life. He says he salvages and recycles a lot of it, creates his own compost, and provides a service to a community that can’t afford regular dump fees. According to the state attorney general’s office, though, it is an illegal wrecking yard that’s leaching all kind of hazardous waste into the soil, air, and water. The AG’s office recently convicted Chuck of two felonies and a misdemeanor, but that was hardly his first run-in with the law.

This week, in the final episode of Season 2 of Seattleland, reporter Josh Kelety leads us through Chuck’s world, and helps peel back the curtain on the kind of guy who would create and hold onto this kind of thing so tightly, for so long.

Music by Leeni Ramadan and Jahzzar

This week’s cover photo is a portrait of Chuck Pillon and was taken by Caean Couto. Josh Kelety is the King County reporter for Sound Publishing and produced a print version of this story in June.

More in Northwest

Praerit Garg joins Smartsheet as CTO

Bellevue-based company employs 760 people

Law would prohibit eye tattoos in Washington state

Canada has already banned this procedure

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

Somali community faces SeaTac displacement

Proposed redevelopment threatens the heart of the Somali business community.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantle space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle cleans up at Grammys

Brandi Carlile, Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

Legislation targets missing and murdered indigenous women epidemic

Savanna’s Act co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Washington ranks among highest in nation

OfferUp founder Nick Huzar makes customer safety a core pillar

Bellevue-based CEO wanted a simpler solution to his own problems

AR-15 rifle and a loaded magazine that were recovered from a suspect in a shooting incident at the Kent Station parking garage. Photo courtesy of King County Sheriff’s Office
Democrats to focus on 30-round magazines and ghost guns in 2019

Following gun control success on the November ballot, state Democrats are eyeing further regulation.