BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – New reports from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful show a significant increase in illegal dumping within the past year. In 2020, there were 210 reports across 50 counties in the state. In 2019, there were 67 reports in 26 counties. That is a 213 percent increase.
KPB believes that there are multiple reasons behind the major spike, including one related to the pandemic. One potential reason is the suspended trash collection of particular items such as electronics, tires, or appliances. Then, another possible reason is more people spending time outdoors.
However, one local official says there might be other factors that are to blame. Environmental Director of Antis Township, John Frederick, says that some people are not aware of the illegal dumping problem or don’t have reliable and affordable trash removal services.
According to Frederick, roughly 10 to 15 percent of Blair County residents do not have a reliable trash removal system. Frederick provided an example that if 50,000 people living in a town, then 5,000 people would not have trash collection.
KPB reports show that the most common item dumped is household products being at 70 percent of the sites. Construction material and tires were the second most common items found, being accounted on 42 and 41 percent of the sites.
Illegal dumping is harmful to the environment. KPB says that not only does it contaminate the soil, surface, and groundwater supplies, but it can also negatively impacted the property value. The garbage can attract rodents and mosquitoes who will live off the waste. There are multiple laws within the state regarding illegal dumping. However, local ordinances vary by municipality.
“It undermines the quality of life,” Frederick said. “It damages the environment. It’s a health and safety concern. There are a host of things that make it an undesirable behavior.”
KPB reports that there are approximately 6,500 illegal dump states within the state. Frederick says that eliminating the problems starts with bringing awareness to the issue.
“The more you raise awareness about a problem,” Frederick said. “I think the more people come to appreciate and realized they need to be a part of the solution to solve the problem.”
Frederick also believes providing an affordable garbage disposal service will help with the solution. He also says that a task force he works with is possibly installing security cameras in popular dumping spots within this year.