PHILADELPHIA –The Streets Department announced the successful civil prosecution of an offender caught illegally dumping on city streets. Through the Streets Department’s initiative to pursue and hold illegal dumpers accountable, the offender was found to be in violation the Philadelphia Code and ordered to pay over $10,700 in total penalties that consists of a $5000 fine and over $5,700 in abatement cleanup costs.
“This is a big win in our fight against illegal dumping and sends the message to anyone else that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” said Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams. “Illegal dumping is a crime and severely impacts the quality of life in our neighborhoods across the city. Each year the Streets Department spends over one million dollars cleaning up illegally dumped materials at the taxpayers’ expense. However, this ruling now places the cost on the people responsible for this disgraceful behavior. Our investments in the use of surveillance cameras and support from the Law Department gives us hope that we begin to address this problem and make the city a cleaner place to live.”
The short dumping took place at 20th and Lippincott Streets. Video footage of the dumping was captured on one of the Streets Department’s surveillance cameras strategically placed throughout the city at well-known dumping locations. This video evidence aided the court in finding the offender in violation of the Philadelphia Code and ordered payment within 30 days for illegally dumping materials on the city streets.
City Council’s support to amend the Code section on Refuse and Littering assisted in broadening the definition of short dumping to cover more violation offenses and to revise penalties and remedies related to such offenses. This allows the City to seek higher civil penalties including increased fines and the cost of clean-up. The legislation permits the City:
- Hold dumpers responsible for clean-up costs;
- Holds businesses and/or agents assisting or aiding in short-dumping responsible;
- Increase the fines for illegal dumping to $5,000 per offense, which is a single large item dumped.
The Streets Department is extremely pleased to see its new process for capturing and prosecuting illegal dumpers has produced favorable results. Thanks to City Council, Inspector General Office, and Law Department’s support the Department was able to streamline the process for increased accountability of short dumpers. The hope is this case and others that are pursued will be a deterrent to offenders to not dump in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
Through the new civil code enforcement process SWEEP Officers and Police issue violations. SWEEP and Police sends violations directly to Law for civil enforcement of the Philadelphia Code.
Other cases have been prosecuted through the new process including an illegal dumping offender who immediately paid over $2,500 in clean-up costs. In addition, 20 Notices of Violations have been issued in collaboration with the Police Department’s Environmental Crimes Unit. Cases originate from Streets, Police and other Departments and the public via 311. Additional cases are being pursued.
The Streets Department is the primary agency responsible for remediation of illegal dumping sites across the City of Philadelphia. In 2021, the Department removed 7,171 tons of illegally dumped materials from 1,309 sites and an estimated 83,600 tires.