Industrial Demolition Experts Discuss Illegal Dumping: Understanding EPA’s Guidelines

Kathy McGraw NPS lot and dumping Illegal dumping is a major problem in communities across the U.S. If you’ve ever noticed an old mattress, couch, or car randomly situated along the road, you’ve witnessed the effects of illegal dumping. Sometimes called “open dumping” or “midnight dumping,” illegal dumping typically consists of non-hazardous materials that are dumped on the fly to avoid the time and money required for proper disposal.

Illegal dumping may include materials such as:
–Automobiles, auto parts, and car tires
–Yard waste
–Medical waste
Unfortunately, open dumping piles also commonly contain construction and demolition materials, such as lumber, concrete, siding, drywall, and roofing shingles. As demolition experts, we find it appalling that others in our industry would skirt the system to avoid proper processing fees. Once waste begins to pile up in a vacant lot, it attracts more trash, and may eventually turn into a hazardous junk pile containing paint, asbestos, automotive fluids, and industrial/commercial waste. Such illegal dump sites pose various dangers to communities.

Hazards of Illegal Dumps

Physical and Chemical Dangers, such as protruding nails and harmful fluids, may be accessible to children playing in the area.
Breeding Grounds for Mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. Spare tires retain shallow pools of water, precisely the type of environment mosquitoes require for breeding. Encephalitis and Dengue Fever outbreaks are more likely to occur near an illegal dump, for this reason.
Fire Risk. Illegal dumps may spontaneously combust. They may also attract arsonists.
Contaminated Runoff may poison downstream rivers and lakes.
Forest fires and flooding are additional possible outcomes of major illegal dumpsites.

Given these dangers to environmental health, the EPA has a stake in minimizing illegal dumping.

EPA’s Guidelines on Illegal Dumping Prevention

The Environmental Protection Agency offers extensive resources to help communities avoid and clean up illegal dumps. Here are a few of the agency’s recommendations.
Keep popular dumpsites clean. Maintenance goes a long way in preventing future dumps. Signs reading “No Dumping” can inform citizens of the law. Proper lighting makes midnight dumps less likely. Landscaping efforts beautify dumpsites. Finally, concrete barriers or chain link fences can limit access to common dumping grounds.
Create effective community involvement programs through outreach and education. For instance, East St. Louis, Illinois holds Community Cleanup Days, resulting in the cleanup of more than 166,000 tons of illegal trash from urban areas.
Pass targeted legislation regarding illegal dumping, and provide the manpower to enforce the law. Barberton, Ohio’s health department discovered an illegal dump containing 15-foot-high piles of scrap tires and hazardous waste. Ultimately, the city’s efforts resulted in the owner paying the entire $80,000 price tag for cleanup.
–Track your progress, to show community members how cleanup programs are providing benefits.

Amoral C&D contractors may claim to dump materials properly, while actually violating environmental laws in dumping illegally. A recent dumping case in Colorado highlights this unfortunate tendency. Two companies were recently convicted of dumping asbestos-containing materials in Arapahoe and Weld counties. It shouldn’t be too surprising that one of these companies also faces charges of failing to pay subcontractors for asbestos abatement. Our experience is that unsavory demolition outfits are likely to break multiple laws in their handling of toxic demolition materials.

Elder Demolition’s Mission: Lead the Demolition Industry

Through years of service, Elder Demolition has gained a reputation for excellence in commercial and industrial demolition. Our mission is to continue to be recognized as a respected leader in our industry. Since 1997, we’ve been following best practices in safely disposing of demolition materials. To stay abreast of industry developments, we maintain membership in the National Association of Demolition Contractors, Associated General Contractors, and the demolition Entrepreneurs Association. We encourage an atmosphere of continuous learning, where employees are constantly looking for new ways to improve. We care deeply about the environment, and it shows through our extensive recycling efforts and green demolition techniques. Clients can trust us to provide top-notch, environmentally-friendly demolition services legally and safely.

[Photo by Kathy McGraw via CC License]

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