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The Problems and Cost of Illegal Dumping

The Problems and Cost of Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping is quickly becoming a global problem. Cleaning up unsightly, hazardous garbage sites are mandatory, because they can easily pose a number of health risks, cause environmental damage, and contribute to urban blight. Used automobile tires that have been discarded to the side of a road, or in a rural area, can harbor mosquitoes when they contain stagnant water. Dump site mosquitoes can then transfer diseases such as West Nile Virus and the Zika Virus. Batteries and other electronics that have been disposed of unlawfully are easily combustible, igniting fires that cause air pollution and contamination of nearby ground water.  But what about the costs?

Unfortunately, for many heavily-populated municipalities, cleaning up illegal dump sites is no affordable task. Thousands of dollars are spent on clean-up crews and the equipment needed to haul the waste away. HAZMAT crews are brought in to assess any environmental concerns, as well as possible site contamination. Without a proper means of deterrence, as soon as one dump site is cleaned, another one quickly springs up in its place.

While the costs incurred because of illegal dumping varies from city to city, the means is almost always the same. For example, the average cost per year associated with cleaning up illegal dumping in San Francisco is 10 million., and according to Baltimore Public Works their cost in 2017 was $21,164,771.00. These figures are the norm for large cities who are struggling to combat the problem of illegal dumping.

With so much money being poured into cleaning illegal dump sites, these budgets would be better allocated to other areas of spending. If illegal dump sites were deterred and eradicated, the funds could be transferred to better use such as public transportation and community beautifying. What is your city doing to stop illegal dumping?

Illegal Dump Sites Attract Crime

Illegal Dump Sites Attract Crime

Illegal dumping is a crime that continues to infect many cities throughout the U.S. The problem grows alongside the piles of unlawfully dumped waste, negatively affecting the community in which the act takes place. When illegal dump sites are not quickly cleaned up, the problem often compounds itself in a type of “snowballing” effect, leading to further recurrences of the crime.

As this problem continues to grow exponentially, the attitude incurred by the community is one of negative negligence. The unsightly scene of illegal dump sites can lend to emotions that the community members do not seem to care about what happens to their neighborhood. The community can then become vulnerable to further acts of crime, such as vandalism and other public nuisance crimes, creating an atmosphere of an unsafe and crime-filled environment.  The community neglect can then lead to further issues concerning various social disorders.

Community members experiencing crime-induced social disorders can become suspicious of others, which can then lead to depression and anxiety. This anxiety can cause weak social bonds between community members and, unfortunately, incite further crime which gains a stronghold in their neighborhoods.

As Charles E. Kubrin and Ronald Weitzer wrote in their New Directions in Social Disorganization Theory article describing crime commonly occurring in specific neighborhoods, “…weak social networks decrease a neighborhoods capacity to control the behavior of people in public, and hence increase the likelihood of crime.”

Given that illegal dumping can lead to further instances of crime, it is of the utmost importance for communities everywhere to promptly clean up dump sites and prevent illegal dumping.

What to do:

  • Implement tough legislation against illegal dumping
  • Take proactive measures to enforce the law
Illegal Dumping and Tires

Illegal Dumping and Tires

On average, 298 million used scrap tires are generated in the U.S. each year while 33 million are generated in California alone. These scrap tires are among the most common illegally dumped items because of their large size and inability to be compacted. Used tires that have been disposed of illegally contribute greatly to mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and encephalitis, in addition to harboring other diseases. The sight of these heaps of scrap tires also contributes to urban decay, causing property values to decrease immensely.

Illegally dumped scrap tires are also hazardous to the environment due to the fact that just one used tire contains roughly two gallons of toxic paralytic oil. If this oil were to somehow ignite, the consequences could prove disastrous.  

The first used tire disposal laws were passed in 1985 and sought to reduce the growing number of used tire stockpiles. Among the laws passed, tire retailers were required to charge consumers a disposal fee in order to properly dispose of used tires in accordance with federal regulations. Many municipalities also now participate in grant-funded programs that are designed to address the problem of illegally dumped used tires. These grants are used to pay for tire pick-up, disposal, and enforcement of tire recycling laws.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Educate the public on proper waste disposal methods and where to find designated disposal facilities
  • Announce a Public Service Locally Recognized Day of the year set aside for recycling activities
  • Use Illegal Dumping Cameras in remote areas that attract illegal waste disposal
Fires and Illegal Dumping

Fires and Illegal Dumping

Illegal Dumping can cause fires and combating illegal dumping is becoming a top priority for many cities throughout the world. The growing problem is created by those who do not want to pay fees associated with disposing of their waste legally, but who would rather risk stiff penalties and fines if they were to be caught committing the crime.

 

Lawfully disposed hazardous materials, such as used automobile oil, may at times incur various fees for its disposal. In an effort to avoid paying these fees, would-be dumpers simply find an area to dispose of these materials, and break the law by doing so.

 

There exists a vast array of materials that can be commonly found amidst the rubble in a pile of illegally dumped waste. Items that include household refuse, used automobile parts, and hazardous medical waste. While many items that compose an unlawfully dumped waste site often pose various health risks, flammable materials at an illegal dump site can cause serious harm.

 

Electronic waste and used automobile tires are some of the most commonly illegally dumped items. When exposed to high temperatures and decomposition within the dump site, these items can catch fire quickly. Due to the fact that many illegal dump sites are located in more rural areas, these dump site fires can spread to the surrounding habitat and lead to wide-scale forest fires.

 

When hazardous materials combust, the toxic air particles resulting from the site fire can have devastating consequences on humans and the surrounding wildlife, while polluting nearby ground and drinking water.

 

Repeat offenders and dumpers of various hazardous materials face heavier fines and possible jail time for dumping their garbage unlawfully, as they should.  Communities need tools, such as illegal dumping cameras, social media, and heavy fines to combat and prevent the dump sites from turning into a blazing inferno.   In addition to a means of prevention, it is up to our own communities to make sure those responsible for committing this odious act are held responsible. Be proactive, stop the problem before the community goes up in smoke!