Illegal dumping has been an issue in many areas over the years and was very recently addressed in one Texas community when 15 heavy-duty trash bags were illegally dumped in a culvert on CR 206 within the Blackberry community in Grimes County. According to authorities, averages of three calls a week are received regarding matters of illegal dumping. In the instance of the 15 heavy-duty bags, Grimes County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the call in an attempt to identify the person or persons responsible. An examination of the contents of the bags revealed items including used cooking oil, liquor and beer containers as well as other items consistent with those found in any household. According to authorities, illegal dumping is not just a health hazard; the trash also causes serious drainage issues when the bags are washed down streams into the water ways were they cause blockages.
What is illegal dumping? Any time a person or company intentionally disposes of or allows disposal of solid waste at a site or location other than a state, county or city approved landfill it is considered illegal dumping. The majority of the time, illegal dumping is a matter of opportunity. It could be something as simple as throwing a cigarette butt out of the window or throwing away a bag of trash in a ditch or a commercial hauler dumping construction debris on private property.
Why is illegal dumping such a problem? Illegal dumping raises concerns regarding safety, property values and the quality of life. Many people don’t realize that the clean-up effort is a major economic burden on local governments who are typically responsible for cleaning up the dump site. Illegal dumping also attracts rodents and other pests that carry disease which can have a detrimental effect on our health along with contaminating water sources and polluting rivers and streams. Illegal dump sites often attract more illegal dumping resulting in a domino effect. The bottom line is, in addition to negative effects on health, safety and the environment; illegal dumping also results in additional financial costs to tax payers.
What should you do if you see someone dumping illegally? Never approach the person or persons illegally dumping. Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Some of the things you can do are to safely and carefully watch and report the following:
• Note the license plate number of the vehicle
• Note the type of vehicle including make, model and color
• General appearance of the individual or individuals
• The local of the dump site
• Take a photo on your phone
How can you report illegal dumping? You may contact the Texas Environmental Complaint Hotline at 888-777-3186. Texas residents can report environmental violations at this number where they will be routed to the nearest TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) regional office. Spills can be reported 24 hours a day to TCEQ Spill Reporting at 800-832-8224
What can you do to make a difference and help keep your environment safe and clean?
• Set an example to those around you by not littering or dumping
• Take any used motor oil, batteries or tires to your local recycle center
• Only use a licensed and authorized commercial trash service
• Bag all of your trash and make sure that your trash cans have lids that are properly secured.
• Never discharge or pump sewage or any other waste lines into a ditch, stream, creek or pond.
• Get involved with neighborhood and community clean-up projects.