ILLEGAL DUMPING




If you go for a cheaper rate that seems too good to be true on your dumping needs, you risk yourself for being fined. Check out the article from Tulsa World below.

Stop This Illegal Dumping

If you've driven more than 10 miles in Oklahoma, you've 
seen it: The disgusting roadside dump where items ranging from tacky furniture to construction materials to household trash to dead animals rot together in a festering heap. It may not rank up there with crumbling roads and leaky sewer systems, but illegal roadside dumping ought to worry people more than it does. Illegal dumping costs state and local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to clean up, money that could be spent more productively. Then there's the aesthetic costs of these illegal dumps, unquantifiable, but certainly significant. This isn't just a rural problem. Studies show city people are as likely to dump illegally as country residents.

This problem could be addressed by adopting a few simple steps. 
Dumping could be greatly reduced, resulting in a much more attractive community, and crews that once worked to clean up the roadsides could be put to work elsewhere.

But local officials need to be convinced that's what should be 
done. They need the support of the community or they'll continue to consider roadside dumping a low priority, or, as one observer put it, "no priority." Most citizens would probably be surprised at the size of the problem.

A year-old report by a group called Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Inc. details responses from a survey of Oklahoma county commissioners on the extent of illegal dumping in their communities. The survey found there are approximately 2,500 illegal dumps on Oklahoma public property -- about 32 dumps per county. Most of the dumps -- about 85 percent -- cover a quarter acre or more. Every work day, 15 county crews are dispatched statewide to pick up dumped roadside garbage.
 
The cost to properly dispose of illegally dumped refuse averages about $25 per load, the survey concluded. The average quarter-acre dump site might contain 10 loads of junk. County commissioners estimate they dispatch crews 4,600 times a year. Hauling off the bulkier stuff -- the mattresses and the sofas -- is more expensive. The cost of picking up one dump truck load of bulky junk was estimated at about $103. So every time some irresponsible slob tosses an old sofa and junky recliner off the back of a pickup, it costs taxpayers more than $100. Already, Oklahoma taxpayers spend more than $1 million a year trying to control illegal dump sites. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful stimates the one-time cost to clean up all these sites would be nearly $4 million. That figure would rise substantially if the cost to clean up dump sites on private lands were added. This figure also doesn't include the substantial sums spent by cities and individual state agencies.
 
These all are in addition to the costs of picking up litter along roads and highways, a separate but related problem.

Why is roadside dumping such a problem in Oklahoma? There are various theories. One is that many Oklahomans lack pride, a legacy perhaps of their Dust Bowl heritage. People who have traveled in other states, particularly in parts of the North and Northwest, often are surprised by the rarity of roadside dumps in those areas. Could it be that people in tidier communities have different attitudes about their communities and their property, even about themselves?

Another theory is that many citizens dump because they aren't aware of other options. Some of them probably could be persuaded to haul their garbage to a proper disposal site, officials believe. Next week, Tulsa County commissioners will consider a report addressing area dumping. The hope here is that they will take the problem seriously. Maybe a coalition of city, county and other agencies could be created to sustain an anti-dumping campaign. There are lots of approaches. Some cities, including Oklahoma City, have hired "trash cops" to track illegal dumpers with considerable success. There, a private group raised funds to pay a year's salary for a trash cop, with the hope that other funds will be identified to continue paying him. Oklahoma City also has a hotline for reporting illegal dumping.

In several rural counties, officials have set up large dumpsters in central, easily accessible sites, hoping to lure illegal dumpers to those locations.

The Metropolitan Environmental Trust report going to county commissioners this week includes some other ideas. Prosecuting dumpers when possible is one recommendation. The planners concluded, probably correctly, that a few well-publicized prosecutions might send the right message to other would-be dumpers. Last year, the report notes, only two people were cited in Tulsa County for littering; there were no charges filed over illegal dumping.
 
The MET report also calls for offering rewards to citizens reporting illegal dumping. Free landfill days, say on a monthly basis, might be a big help. Earlier this year, when the city of Tulsa sponsored a free landfill weekend, nearly 4,000 vehicles showed up. If offered to all county residents on a regular basis, the free landfill weekend could greatly reduce cleanup costs.

There are other ideas that would help -- educating the public 
about disposal options and recycling possibilities and improving trash service options and the like. The point is we as a community could be, and should be, doing more than we are now to stop illegal dumping. It's time to cleanthis place up.

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