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October 2007

Pennsylvania survey identifies numerous illegal dump sites

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the non-profit environmental group PA CleanWays, used roadside surveys to recently identify more than 1,700 illegal dumpsites containing an estimated 8,100 tons of trash in 15 counties.

Due to the success of the program to date, DEP has asked PA CleanWays to expand the survey to incorporate 11 more counties this fall. The effort is expected to cover the entire state within five years.

The program is funded through DEP’s Clean Our American Lands and Streams (COALS), program, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and other private sources.

With the dumpsites identified and mapped, COALS and its partners - which includes environmental groups, the coal and waste industries, businesses, community groups, schools and local, county and state governments - will meet with local residents, business leaders and environmental groups to prioritize sites for cleanups, gather local financial and volunteer support, and target anti-litter educational programs.

Since the program’s inception in 2005, 56 sites, 275 tons of municipal waste, 106 tons of tires and 220 pounds of hazardous waste have been cleaned or removed. DEP is aggressively expanding the study and, last year, granted $50,000 to fund beautification efforts in partnership with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

The COALS public-private partnership is a new approach to cleaning up and preventing illegal dumpsites. The joint venture focuses on building community awareness, evaluating sites for clean up and encouraging recycling as an alternative to dumping.

Law enforcement and surveillance are also important tools for COALS. DEP has invested more than $30,000 in high-tech surveillance equipment to monitor and collect evidence to prosecute illegal dumping. Over the last two years, COALS has issued more than 110 citations for illegal dumping.