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OP-ED: Continue fighting illegal dumping

Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

There is a difference between dumping and littering.

Littering is tossing an empty bag out of your car, tossing a bottle into the ditch or throwing a cigarette on the ground. It accumulates and makes an area look less attractive. Illegal dumping is tossing a big screen television, a couch, mattresses or bedsprings on the side of the road, especially one without immediate residents nearby.

Both are bad for the environment; however, the illegal dumping also affects the drainage in the area. How can water flow in the ditches with a couch and a refrigerator acting like a dam?

Illegal dumping reaches a Class B Misdemeanor when the violator offloads anywhere from 5 to 500 pounds of waste or a volume of 5 gallons to no more than 100 cubic feet into an unauthorized dumping site. This level of charge can entail a fine reaching as high as $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.

It becomes a Class A Misdemeanor, the most severe misdemeanor-level charge for illegal dumping. It also has two separate designations, based on whether the offense is being perpetrated by an individual or a commercial endeavor.

  • Individual – The perpetrator deposits an amount of trash between 500 and 1,000 pounds or occupying a volume between 100 and 200 cubic feet
  • Commercial – The perpetrator illegally dumps an amount of waste weighing between 5 and 200 pounds or occupying anywhere from 5 to 200 cubic feet, according to https://www.junkguruz.com/

Despite the fines, there is the discouragement of seeing these items on the side of the road as one travels around the county. A beautiful view of a cow pasture with baby calves running and playing marred by a king size mattress in the ditch.

In 2019, I wrote an editorial on litter as a growing problem in the area.

“Yet, as one drives through Orange County tires, recliners, mattresses and empty fast food bags litter the roads and ditches. I counted 13 tires in one mile on one road in the county and 10 in another mile on a road in the city of Orange.

It took two weeks for most of those tires to be removed. However, recliners and mattresses are taking its place.”

It is now two years later and county roads continue to be a dumping ground for unwanted appliances, mattresses and living room furniture.

The City of Orange implemented a plan to addressing litter within the city. For this we are grateful.

This is our home and the last thing we want anyone to do is trash it up. If you see someone littering, please report it.

Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle and please do not litter. Let’s make Orange County beautiful.

 

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com