A judge in Covington, Va., who closed the Kim-Stan landfill in May fined the operator $1.55 million yesterday for damaging nearby ponds and streams leading to the Jackson River.

It was the second-largest fine for environmental damages levied in a state court, said Bert Rohrer, spokesman for Attorney General Mary Sue Terry. The largest was the $6 million fine against the Avtex Fibers plant in Front Royal, which was closed for releasing PCBs into the Shenandoah River.

The Kim-Stan fine was levied by Alleghany County Circuit Judge Duncan Byrd, who had been asked by the state Attorney General's Office to impose a $5.75 million fine. Kim-Stan attorney Joe Roberts argued in a hearing last week that the state's maximum fine should be $10,000.

At a hearing yesterday, Byrd issued a permanent injunction against the private landfill's pollution of waterways with leachate, the toxic liquid produced when rainwater runs through rotten garbage, solvents, metals and chemicals at the landfill.

Kim-Stan was declared bankrupt early last week and Roberts has repeatedly said the company is broke and cannot pay for a cleanup or its $1.8 million in debts.

Kim-Stan was fined $134,000 this summer for breaking environmental laws and county zoning regulations.