This month, area residents have complained of several dump sites where illegal dumping has occurred, and municipalities and agencies continue to take steps to combat the problem.
A local woman posted this week to a Facebook group, mentioning a dump site she witnessed on a trip on Route 865 from Bellwood to Blandburg. She said she wasn’t entirely surprised to see there are still “some slobs that are throwing their garbage our along the road.”
Some of the locations, she said, might be in Reade Township, but areas in Antis Township continue to be a concern as well. The woman reported seeing old mattresses and garbage, and even once saw a man dump washers and a dryer over the bank near the Bellwood reservoir.
“It would be nice to drive that mountain and not see old mattresses, roof shingles, and other trash that people throw out,” she said. “Please be vigilant and watch for these people on your trips up and down the mountain and report anybody trashing our mountain.
“I encourage everyone to watch for these people and get a license number and description of the vehicle and report them.”
John Frederick, environmental director at Antis Township, said he and the Public Works staff do respond to reported dump sites and will go through the trash to look for evidence to determine from where it may have come.
“If we find something — which we do from time to time — we follow up and try to take legal action if we feel we have enough evidence,” said Frederick.
Frederick can’t say with certainty that there is any correlation with people who perhaps cannot afford trash pickup, or want to avoid a dumping fee, and those who are illegally dumping trash.
“Anecdotally, I have found that dumping knows no socioeconomic bounds,” he said. “Two years ago, as testimony to this, I found a retired attorney’s trash in a commercial dumpster that had been having serious illegal dumping problems. Additionally, dumpers typically dump everything, even recyclables. Given that recycling can be done for free at several drop-off locations, this would indicate a disregard for the law, good manners, and normal household hygiene, rather than a shortfall of financial resources.”
Historically, many dumping incidents also have involved someone who charges to take trash from someone else and ultimately decides to dump it rather than take it to a disposal facility.
“Dumping is much more common where prices for waste service is high,” said Frederick, who worked on a study by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful several years ago that substantiated the correlation between more dumping and poor or expensive waste service. “When I worked in the recycling office, we came to conclude that about 10% of the households in the IRC communities did not have regular waste and recycling service at any given time. That number is much higher in non-recycling municipalities because there is generally less trash oversight in those communities. It is one of the many reasons that many have advocated for a single waste collector that picks up everyone, every week.
“The current system makes it easy to go without waste service and invariably those are the folks that are much more prone to dumping.”
Services like Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and the Department of Transportation continue to discourage littering and illegal dumping, offering programs and grants to help combat these issues. Even the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) works towards the same goal and is a resource for the local Little Juniata River Association (LJRA), which holds an annual area riverbank cleanup and responds to reported dump sites along the river.
Two weeks ago, Little Juniata River Association cleaned up a reported site where trash was dumped under a trestle near Babe Road off of Route 453. The site included roofing materials, diapers, and other trash. Volunteers set out quickly to clean up the trash and set up cameras in different areas as well.
“We cleaned this mess up [last week], along with junk at the Plummer Hollow bridge and a pile of junk on the River Road,” LJRA said in a Facebook comment. “LJRA has several new cameras which [were] deployed after the trash pick up.
“We have good participation by PFBC. Several slobs have been caught and fined in the past. In one case, the perpetrator was ordered to pay the $200 to LJRA for our clean-up efforts. LJRA would like to see the littering fine raised to at least $1,000, especially where a river bank is involved.”
Residents across social media have lately shared other areas where they have noticed dumping. Residents are encouraged to contact the municipalities where dumping sites are located, and to keep an eye out for anyone who is taking part in illegal dumping. Vehicle license plates, video or photo evidence can be reported to authorities.