PARKERSBURG - Wood County Solid Waste Authority county compliance officer John Reed said he's made it a goal this year to crack down on illegal dumping, including apparent repeat offenders leaving old construction materials on Fort Boreman Hill.
The county has a park at the former Civil War site on Fort Boreman Hill, and county officials said someone keeps dumping old construction materials. Illegal dumps have been a chronic problem in Wood County, especially in the more rural, remote areas.
"The first one that was found on the hill was in March near the Department of Highways property. That was cleaned up by clients on the Home Confinement Program. The second one was found just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Officials with the DEP (Division of Environmental Protection) were in town and they cleaned that up," Reed said.
Wood County officials are cracking down on illegal dumps, including repeat offenders who leave their trash on Fort Boreman Hill. Bob Tebay of the Fort Boreman Hill Park advisory board is shown in the midst of one of the dumpsites found recently on the hill. Officials are investigating and say they have leads on the responsible party who will be prosecuted.
On Thanksgiving Day Reed received a call saying more construction material had been dumped in the same site.
"So I went up there on Thanksgiving Day and sure enough, there was more trash there," Reed said.
The second and third dumps are on Marmac property, but Reed said because they are in such close proximity to the park, the county has taken the lead in getting them cleaned up.
It's The Law
* West Virginia law requires everyone be on a trash service or be able to produce a receipt from a licensed landfill once a month.
* First-offense illegal dumping is punishable by a fine of $2,500-$25,000.
* Second-offense illegal dumping is a felony carrying a maximum of 1-3 years in prison and a fine of $50,000 for each violation.
"We notify the property owner when it's on private property, but since these sites are so near the park, we wanted to get it cleaned up quickly," he said.
In several other cases, Reed was able to find evidence in the trash itself that enabled authorities to trace the source and the offender was contacted and cleaned up their mess.
"It's time the government stopped having to clean up these sites and the responsible parties were held responsible and we intend to prosecute. I am investigating the last two, we have leads and if we get the person who dumped it, we will prosecute them through magistrate court," Reed said.
Contractors are required to dispose of construction/waste materials in a licensed landfill. First-offense violation of the open dumping law carries a fine of between $2,500-$25,000. A second offense is a felony with a maximum penalty of a 1-3 year prison term and a $50,000 fine for each violation.
"The state has gotten pretty tough on this with these penalties. I take a lot of pride in Wood County and it's very disappointing to see someone doing this. My goal this year is to attempt to find more of the individuals responsible and prosecute them rather than governmental entities cleaning them up," Reed said.
"We believe these latest two incidents may involve the same individuals, and we will prosecute," Reed said.
"I guess these people find remote areas, and it doesn't take long to dump a truckload of trash. We had a total of 19 illegal open dumps this year throughout the county. Out of those, in eight instances we found the responsible parties and had them clean it up; seven were cleaned up by the DEP; three were cleaned up clients as community service through the Home Confinement program; and one is still an ongoing investigation," Reed said.