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Tools to Combat Illegal Dumping

Tools to Combat Illegal Dumping

Illegal Dumping is a national epidemic, disturbing people in the urban neighborhoods and the inner cities.  Waste sites attract and become a breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes.  Both creatures can carry and transmit harmful diseases to humans.

It is important cities implement a program to prevent the hazards and blight illegal dumping causes.

Effective programs implement an enforcement part of the program and some cities generate revenue to offset the cost of illegal dump site cleanups.  For a city to be able to generate revenue, it must have strong legislation, communication and teamwork between city departments and tools to help the designated department get the job done.

Among many cities who have developed an illegal dumping program, California’s Department of Resources and Recovery (CalRecycle) has developed and provided a tool to help municipalities within California combat illegal dumping within their community.  Within the Enforcement part of the guide, there are four needed strong actions:

  • Staff Resources: Dedicated staff with training and authority to educate the public, respond and investigate illegal dumping complaints, which includes interviews and making arrests
  • Tools and Resources: Resources are paramount to helping the staff combat the illegal dumping problem, which should include:
    • Data management systems to locate and map hot spots
    • Hot lines to receive complaints about illegal dumping
  • Administrative Actions: An effective illegal dumping program must have Orders, Fines and an Administrative Law Judge, to handle major cases
  • Judicial Prosecution:  Illegal dumping programs need to have the ability to use the judicial process to determine guilt and obtain abatement.

Without a strong illegal dumping program and tools to implement the program, cities will continue to face the blight and community panic illegal dumping causes.

Hazards of Illegal Dumping Sites

Hazards of Illegal Dumping Sites

Illegal dumping needs to be managed and stopped. Illegal waste dumping, a problem around the country, causes environmental and physical hazardous that could cause harm to children. What should be a waste management issue becomes safety management for children. 

Although illegal dump sites are hazardous to all people and animals, trash environments are especially dangerous for children, who see the abandoned refrigerators and couches piled up as an invitation to “playhouse”.  Besides abandoned objects, dump sites contain hazards like sharp objects, construction debris, and disposed chemicals. 

Hawaii News Now speaks of the neighborhood, Makakil, who are experiencing illegal dumping in their community. At the dump site, there are a few refrigerators and couches that the children play on. The parents in the community say it’s a “hazard for children”, and they want the problem to stop.

There many more communities around the US that have the issue of illegal waste dumping. Unfortunately this issue has become a safety concern for some parents, like in Makakil. Local governments should be dealing with waste management so local communities can be safer, but instead illegal dumping has become a safety problem for parents. Local governments should incorporate ways to stop illegal dumping in their waste management program, so that the dumping nuisance does not increase the concern parents have in protecting their children.

What is your city doing to stop illegal dumping?

Effective Illegal Dumping Solution

Effective Illegal Dumping Solution

Illegal dumping is the dumping of waste illegally instead of an authorized method of disposal. The issues that piles of unlawfully dumped waste bring are complex and repetitive. Without proper abatement and deterrence, illegal dumping can quickly become more than just an issue of community neglectfulness.

Illegal dumping is not just an eyesore and a public health hazard. Piles of unlawfully dumped waste can also indicate a given community’s negative attitude towards their own environment. A lack of community pride inspired by illegal dump sites can lead to anxiety, depression, and suspiciousness of other residents in the neighborhood in which they reside.

Repeated acts of illegal dumping can give the feeling that a community is unsafe and contribute to further crime on an already vulnerable neighborhood. Piles of unlawfully dumped waste also serve as a visual representation of social disorganization and crime within a community.

Because of illegal dumping’s negative economic effects, the act contributes greatly to neighborhood decay. Illegal dumping results in lower real estate values and abandoned properties. This type of community blight invites other criminal behavior, such as graffiti and vandalism, drug sales and drug abuse, trespassing, and other types of public nuisance crimes.

Those who dump their waste illegally often feel like they will not be caught while committing the crime. Without a proper means of deterrence, illegal dumping will continue to affect many communities and negatively impact the residents who live there.

What should the community do?

Fortunately, there are creative ideas that not only solve the problem but can add to the city’s resources.  To do this, the city must implement a program that includes city teamwork, involving several departments. 

Implement an effective Illegal Dumping Program:

  • Coordinated efforts to educate the public and to increase public relation efforts.
  • Support from specified enforcement personnel to successfully prosecute individual cases.
  • Totally Portable, High-Resolution Cameras to catch and prosecute dumpers in the act.
Illegal Dumping Pollutes Water Supplies

Illegal Dumping Pollutes Water Supplies

The excessive amount of environmental and health risks that illegal dump sites pose on both humans and animals is staggering. Fragile ecosystems and protected wildlife habitats can be easily destroyed by pollution caused by incidences of illegal dumping. Burning of solid waste at dump sites and harmful toxins dumped unlawfully eventually find their way into surface and groundwater, contaminating drinking water supplies with numerous, and very dangerous, pathogens.

In late 2018, Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada experienced massive water contamination caused by multiple illegal dump sites. These dump sites contained many dangerous waste products such as paint, chemicals, and paint, and prescription medications. After a particularly wet rainy season, toxins contained in the dump sites quickly sped their way into Lake Mead. As a water supply for 2.2 million Nevada residents, the state knew it was imperative to repair the damage from the contaminated lake; the cost of which resulted in millions in taxpayer dollars.

In February of 2019, a man from the San Francisco Bay area, James Philip Lucero, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after discharging unpermitted pollutants into wetlands and waters of the United States, violating the Federal Clean Water Act. Without the legally-approved permits, Lucero charged a fee to building contractors and trucking businesses in exchange for providing open space to dump fill material and construction debris. Lucero’s illegal dumping caused water contamination to nearby federally protected wetlands, resulting in damage to fragile habitats and ecosystems in the southern area of the San Francisco Bay.

An often overlooked consequence of the act of illegal dumping is the damage it incurs. Water contamination and pollution, environmental threats, and the risk to human health likely never cross the minds of those who perpetuate the crime of illegal dumping. Informing the public and proper deterrence of the act of illegal dumping is of the utmost importance to ensuring the safety of the world’s future.