Barrel Dumped

Fires Caused by Illegal Dumping

Often, illegal dumping is an overlooked problem in both rural and populated areas. The severity of the issue, however, seems to grow alongside the piles of illegally dumped waste.

One of the most dangerous and critical complications that can arise from unlawfully disposed garbage is fire. It is not uncommon to hear of a precariously discharged cigarette butt or used automobile oil, one of the most common and improperly disposed waste products which can easily combust given the correct environmental conditions, being the cause of a large roadside inferno.

Some people, in an effort to cut corners and save money on fees, often attempt to burn the used scrap tires rather than utilize the lawful and proper methods of recycling. This kind of illegal action can have disastrous effects on the environment, as well as cause large-scale wildfires in rural areas. Other offenders of highly volatile and illegally dumped materials include demolition and land clearing contractors whose unused portions of explosive materials end up in unlawful trash heaps.

The devastating consequences of these blazes caused by illegal dumping are far-reaching. Entire families are often left homeless when their property and possessions are reduced to smoldering ashes. These fires leave little to no vegetation in the ground to prevent potential mud slides from occurring and causing even more wide-spread destruction.

Repeat offenders and dumpers of hazardous materials face higher penalties for dumping their garbage illegally but are rarely caught in the act. It is up to our communities to make sure those responsible for committing this ludicrous crime are held accountable.

Here are some actions items you can do to help your community with the Illegal Dumping problem:

  • Report any Illegal Dump Sites
  • If you witness the dumping, take a picture or write down:
    • The license plate number
    • The description of the vehicle
    • What was dumped
  • If the Illegal Dumping occurs on your private property, post signs according to the laws of your city.  (Following the city requirements allow code enforcement officers to help with appropriate action)
  • Talk with your city council about buying Illegal Dumping Cameras
Illegal dump site

Illegal Dumping and Societal Health

Illegal dump sights are an unpleasant picture to behold. However, did you know that illegal dumping brings more than unpleasantness?

The illegal deposit of any waste causes serious concern for a community’s health and safety. For example, the collective dumping of waste onto a repeated area may cause children to mistake an old and dangerous freezer for a play house or other toy, causing potential injury to the children. In addition, there are plenty of various, sharp objects such as broken glass, nails and used syringes awaiting harm to whoever wanders into an abandoned waste pile.  And according to the Environment Protection Agency’s Illegal Dumping Research Report, “illegally dumped asbestos was thought to be on the rise and was commonly cited as being the most problematic… due to the health and safety risks…”

Beyond obvious physical harm to communities, unlawful deposits of waste transfer various unseen diseases and viruses. With an increase of rain this year, mass amounts of wet garbage are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. According to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) mosquitoes cause more suffering than any other organism and can carry life-threatening diseases, such as: Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Encephalitis, Malaria, and the scary Zika Virus. Common sense dictates that illegal trash grounds will also attract other unpleasant insects and trash loving animals such as rats, raccoons, and skunks which spread further disease and health risks.

The act of illegal dumping is beyond unpleasant, it causes serious health threats to the public and can even increase the frequency of human diseases. Illegal dumping is not simply an issue of making cities and neighborhoods a “clean” community, it is an issue of environmental and societal health, and making cities and neighborhoods a safe community.

Frustrations of Illegal Dumping

Frustrations of Illegal Dumping

There is no end to the frustrations of illegal dumping.  As a city official, you have the never-ending job of dealing with the community complaints of the unsightly trash creating disease.  Then you must be creative and find the funds for the costly clean-up.

Illegal dumping brings the esteem of the community low.  Who wants to live in a city cluttered with trash?  And most people know trash brings disease in the form of bacteria and disease carrying rats.  People expect the city council to not only be aware of the problem but to take care of it.

Unfortunately, this illegal dumping problem is increasing.  According to the Oakland Public Works, they cleaned up 29,000 reported piles in 2016, a 100-percent increase from what City crews were picking up five years ago.

The cost is increasing as well. According to a Burns-McDonnel February 2017 Study, The Cost of Litter and Illegal Dumping in Texas (A Study of Nine Cities Across the State), the nine cities who participated spent more than $50 million annually to prevent, combat and clean up.

But…there is a solution.

Did you know with the right ordinances and tools, you can tackle this problem?

Although, implementing an effective program can be daunting, cities should look at this challenge as an opportunity to make a difference. If the ordinances are written correctly, the program could even generate revenue, adding resources to the city. If you are a city official with the challenge of illegal dumping, do not despair.  Create and Implement an Illegal Dumping Solution that will bring pride to the community you serve.


Illegal Dumping – Breeding Mosquitoes

Illegal dumping sites are a breeding ground for all kinds of diseases and mosquitoes.  In addition to rodents and the microscopic organisms, there are the disease carrying insects.  These creatures enter into the human domain, carrying with them their diseases, or become infected after biting a disease carrying source.  Some diseases transmitted by the mosquito in North America are Malaria, West Nile Virus, Encephalitis, and the most recent scare, Zika Fever.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Mosquitoes require water to undergo their life cycle.  The four stages of life, hatching from an egg to becoming an adult flying insect, can take anywhere from 4 days to a few months, depending on the temperature and other environmental factors.  The female flying insect then searches for a blood meal, which can be an animal or a human.  After feeding, the female mosquito lays the eggs on or near water.

According to The American Mosquito Control Association, AMCA, a nonprofit organization that provides information and education to help communities suppress the mosquito population,  many mosquito problems in your neighborhoods are likely to come from water filled containers.

Now, imagine the unintended containers left at an illegal dump site.  Just to name a few, there are tires, mattresses, and toys.  Left unattended these articles accumulate more than enough stagnate water to attract and breed mosquitoes.

With the large amounts of rain and snow most cities have experienced this winter and spring, there is a lot of standing water.  And there are a lot of Illegal Dumping Sites.  Therefore, the probability of pestilence is high this year.

Illegal Dumping is a problem cities should take seriously. Thankfully, most people dispose of their trash in a responsible way.  However, there are some who do not, and the rest of the population is counting on the cities to do everything they can to prevent the  mosquito borne diseases that are plaguing the communities.  What is your city doing to prevent illegal dumping, the mosquito breeding grounds?