Illegal dumping is when someone intentionally discards waste on other people’s property. The dumped waste is usually non-hazardous material. Illegal dump sites often contain:
• Construction and demolition waste such as drywall, roofing shingles, lumber, bricks, concrete, and siding
• Abandoned automobiles, auto parts, and scrap tires
• Yard waste
• Household trash
• Medical waste
• TV’s and computer monitors
Illegal dumps may also contain hazardous materials including:
• Methamphetamine laboratory wastes
• Hypodermic needles
Common sites for illegal dumping include business dumpsters, vacant lots on public or private property, and infrequently used alleys or roadways. Due to accessibility and poor lighting, areas along rural roads are particularly vulnerable.
Why it is a Problem
The health risks associated with illegal dumping are significant. Areas used for illegal dumping may be easily accessible to people, especially children, who are vulnerable to the physical and chemical hazards posed by wastes. Rodents, insects, and other vermin attracted to dump sites may also pose health risks. Dump sites serve as magnets for additional dumping. Illegal dumping can impact proper drainage of runoff, making areas more susceptible to flooding when wastes block ravines, creeks, culverts, and drainage basins. Dumping activities in such areas can also have a negative impact on plants and wildlife. Additionally, runoff from dump sites containing chemicals may contaminate wells and surface water used as sources of drinking water.
The costs to local government and industry associated with continuously cleaning up illegally dumped waste and litter are significant. Unfortunately, residents that dispose of their wastes in a responsible manner ultimately pay these costs.
How to Prevent Illegal Dumping
Follow these guidelines:
• Conduct business with companies properly permitted and licensed to handle materials. Some for-hire companies advertising waste or junk hauling services are not properly permitted. Call Jefferson County Public Health at 360-385-9444 for permitted facilities.
• Ask the business where they intend to recycle or dispose of materials.
• Be suspicious of unusually low disposal prices. This can indicate your waste will be illegally dumped. Pay only one-half of the hauling, disposal, and recycling fees up-front and the remainder of the cost after you receive a receipt from a legitimate recycler or disposal site operator. If someone you hire hauls away materials and then dumps them illegally, you may be liable for cleanup costs, as well as the disposal costs.
• Take preventative measures to restrict easy access to your property such as gates or berms. Post “No Dumping” signs on access points to your property. A property owner is ultimately responsible for their property.
• If you suspect someone is improperly disposing of materials, please file a complaint with Jefferson County Public Health in person (at 615 Sheridan Street in Port Townsend) or call 360-385-9444. Public Health does not take anonymous complaints however confidential complaints are accepted.
Feel free to contact Jefferson County Public Health with any questions or concerns:
Jefferson County Public Health
615 Sheridan Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368