Illegal dumping is an ongoing challenge that impacts many cities nationwide. Illegal dumping is not only a crime, but it has a detrimental impact on communities, and it has significant costs. In Philadelphia, the Streets Department spends approximately $1.5 million annually in cleanup costs, at the taxpayers’ expense. Tons of trash and debris are cleaned up daily from sites across the city including tires, construction debris, old furniture, and the like. It often seems like a daunting challenge that is never-ending. The frustration is only exasperated when crews find themselves cleaning up the same locations sometimes just the next day.
To combat this chronic issue, the Streets Department has made a historic move in the battle against illegal dumpers. For the first time-ever an offender was not only caught illegal dumping, but they were held accountable through civil prosecution. Through the Streets Department’s initiative to take action against illegal dumpers and not just continuously complete cleanups around the city, an offender was found to be in violation of the Philadelphia Code and ordered to pay over $10,700 in total penalties that consists of a $5,000 fine and over $5,700 in abatement cleanup costs.
The legislation permits the city to:
- 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 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.
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, Police 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.