Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Illegal dumping increasing along roads and at rest areas

By WSDOT Staff

While most of the state is doing a good job of Staying Home right now, one thing that isn’t staying put is trash and debris. Roadside litter had been an ongoing battle, but we’re seeing a disturbing rise in illegal dumping at our rest areas and other state land in the past month. And it’s one we need everyone’s help to stop.
The struggle of keeping highways free of litter is a mighty one. We spend more than $4 million a year on that very battle along with teaming with the Department of Ecology and Department of Corrections, but it’s one we don’t always win. We’ve also had problems before with people using our rest area dumpsters as their own personal dumping grounds.
Trash cans and dumpsters at rest areas like this one at the Alpowa Summit on
State Route 12 are for travelers’ incidental trash, not household garbage.

But now we’re seeing something beyond those usual challenges. Either because landfills are closed or they’re worried about dumping fees, people are leaving large amounts of trash and large items along roadsides and rest areas. Compounding matters, many of our crews are working from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We’ve also suspended our Adopt A Highway volunteer program due to coronavirus concerns – so now is the worst possible time to see an uptick in illegal dumping.

The increased trash is not only an eyesore, it is a danger to our employees who find themselves faced with a trash pile that needs to be addressed. These piles of often-unknown materials can pose a direct health threat. Our workers do not know if what was discarded contains substances that might require full hazmat gear to keep them safe. With all but essential emergency work on hold, crews will not be cleaning up these dumpsites unless there is an immediate safety concern for those using the highway.
Dumped trash along State Route 7 in Tacoma is not only unsightly – it’s illegal.
Please help us keep our roads and rights of way clean.

In addition, this kind of dumping is illegal and can result in criminal prosecution as a misdemeanor, or even a gross misdemeanor for someone who litters in an amount of one cubic yard or more. Littering can also carry a $1,000 fine. Our crews are documenting these dump piles and reporting them to law enforcement for possible investigation and prosecution of the dumper.

If you see trash or debris in the roadway that poses an immediate risk to the life and safety of our highway travelers, please call 911 so crews can respond and remove it before it causes a crash. And if you do need to travel, please secure your loads and contain all of the litter you generate.
It took two truck loads to haul away discarded appliances, rusted metal
and other debris along SR 225 near Benton City in early April.

Ultimately, we are asking everyone to stop this litter at the source. Please make sure you’re disposing of your trash at an approved, legal location. Your consideration now will help our employees focus on the importance of maintaining and preserving our highways when we’re all back on the roads again.

Just like we’re all working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, we need everyone’s help keeping our employees safe while keeping Washington beautiful.


EricH said...

I have noticed this increase too. I fail to understand it when local garbage service is still running despite the covid-19 crisis. It makes no sense.

Concerned City Worker said...

My jurisdiction just had a hazmat pickup vender come out yesterday for six 5 gal containers of what appeared to be industrial chemicals that were abandoned in the City right-of-way. Very, very expensive for rate payers to pay the cost of disposing of potential "unknowns" like this. These chemicals could have been anything and required characterization and safe handling practices. Illegal dumpers should never be allowed to complain about taxes or the cost of government.

efsaturn said...

Open the dumps!!!!! Aka transfer stations. Also all the donation places, like Goodwill etc are also closed. What do you expect. There are lots of things essential that had to close. And now the state is paying even more to have to clean it up. Tell Inslee to open up the transfer stations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rebecca Hagemann said...

Lots of people doing drive through take out and tossing their garbage along the way. Sad lazy people.

ATSF199 said...

Governor Inslee does not care. Just as long as his property is litter free.

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