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Illegal Dumping: An Environmental Crime

Illegal Dumping: An Environmental Crime

Even though many municipalities provide large bulk pickup programs, items such as: mattresses, used car parts, batteries, old appliances, and construction waste end up on sidewalks, roadways and remote locations, a sad environmental crime. Sometimes the unwanted expense of lawful means to dispose waste can be a factor when dealing with the problem of illegal dumping, but in a lot of cases convenience, an uncaring attitude towards the environment, and lax law enforcement contribute greatly to illegal dumping.

It is no coincidence that many items not properly or lawfully discarded are usually large bulk items that are difficult to deal with. Fees associated with the disposal of large bulk items or hazardous materials can fetch a high premium, and many companies are ever so diligent in finding new ways to cut corners and save on costs, which is convenient for them. However, a contradiction exists here. The disposal fees pale in comparison to criminal fines and have the ability to bankrupt a company convicted of illegal dumping, which is not convenient or desirable.

Even though some materials are extremely hazardous, often by-products of land clearing and demolition industries, these materials frequently make their way into illegal dumping sites and can contaminate ground and surface water. These environmentally unfriendly products include lead-based paints, used motor oil from gasoline-powered generators, and broken sections of drywall and insulation. If not disposed of in a lawful and federally regulated manner, hazardous materials can have disastrous effects to both the environment and our communities for decades to come, but these dumpers do not care.

The problem of illegal dumping only grows when nothing is done to stop it. Dump sites draw additional dumpers resulting in a “snowball” effect of large heaps of trash. Those persons who dump their garbage illegally are often drawn to remote, unsecured areas as well as areas around unattended waste containers.  Stiffer fines and tools designed to deter this activity in these remote areas are needed.

Barbed Wire

Youngstown Overcoming Illegal Dumping

The city of Youngstown is implementing proactive programs in the war on illegal dumping.

The placing of Illegal Dumping Cameras at dump sites has caused cases of illegal dumping to drop dramatically. But it doesn’t stop there. After suspects have been successfully surveilled, city prosecutors work vigilantly to see that these dumpers face the consequences of their actions. To add to the strategy, Youngstown used Social Media as a creative and effective means to combat Illegal dumping.  Youngstown posted pictures of suspects on their Facebook page in an effort to help identify offenders, which had great results.

Additionally, new laws and legislation passed by the voters of the state of Ohio find violators of these laws facing mandatory fines and possible jail time for serious offenders convicted of illegal dumping. Discarded cigarette butts and unsecured vehicular loads are now criminal offenses under Ohio statutes. In addition to these new revisions of law, the city of Youngstown has also implemented civilian use of new and much larger trash-carts, designed to help diminish cases of illegal dumping.

Unfortunately, Illegal Dumping of materials such as used tires, mattresses, old appliances, and other household waste is a large problem in the U.S. Prevention of unlawful waste disposal from happening in the first place and helping to minimize the possibility of re-occurrence are proactive steps to fight illegal dumping that Youngstown, Ohio isn’t afraid to tackle.

Youngstown has been defending their city by the means of special cameras at the locations that draw individuals who fly tip.  These people dump all kinds of trash and supplies such as tires, construction remains, roofing materials, and random piles of garbage.  These cameras catch people in the act of dumping with a clear resolution.  This strategy in particular has been bringing more than a few fly-tippers to the courtroom for prosecution.

Way to go Youngstown!

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.