Stopping illegal dumping begins with education of alternatives

Dear Wally Waste-Not,
As a resident of the outer Salinas area I would like to point out a profoundly disturbing problem on one of the prettiest roads that leads into Salinas: San Juan Grade Road, also known as Salinas Road.  People are indiscriminately dumping not just garbage but whole unwanted household items such as mattresses, sofas, chairs, construction materials, used baby diapers, and general bags of garbage; anything they don’t want is simply thrown on the side of this formerly very beautiful drive into Salinas.  This dumping is not just once or twice over its approximately 10-mile length; it’s exceedingly often like every 100 yards a mattress or two simply thrown out on the side of the road.  It’s very disheartening, upsetting and illegal but not enforced.  

What can be done?  

Signed,

Salinas Valley


Dear Salinas Valley,

Since the closing of Crazy Horse Canyon Landfill in 2009, roads in the area have experienced an uptick in illegal dumping. Not only is it a visual blight, but potential fire and environmental hazard, threatening water and crop contamination from hazardous materials, and threatening human health and safety by attracting and harboring disease transmitting vectors such as rats, mosquitoes and flies. Dumpsites attract more dumping activity, and the cleanup costs for the County and its taxpayers are into the hundreds of thousands each year.

Illegal Dumping is a serious offense and is in violation of California Law (California Penal Code Section 374.3). Those found guilty of dumping hazardous waste may be held responsible for cleanup costs and environmental damage remediation reaching into the tens of thousands.  Penalties for first offenses range from $250 – $1,000 per offense, and penalties for repeat offenders may result in further fines and enforcement actions. But with county and city law enforcement already spread thin, 24-hour County Sheriff patrolling is impractical, and enforcement is only part of the solution.  To stop illegal dumping, more widespread understanding of disposal options is required.

The easiest alternative may be as close as the curb outside your home. Subscribers to curbside trash and recycling disposal services have annual bulky item pickups included with their services. Contact your waste hauler to schedule pickup.

Rather than dropping items off on the side of the road, the proper alternative is drop-off at a resource recovery site. E-waste (items like televisions, computers and related accessories), most major appliances (without refrigerant), and mattresses are all accepted free of charge for recycling at all three Salinas Valley Recycles locations. Several times a year, Salinas Valley Recycles also offers free tire recycling with the assistance of CalRecycle grant funding, and publicizes these events through the local media.

Along with Salinas Valley Recycles, the cities and their contracted haulers provide free community cleanup events throughout the year where they accept common household waste and recycling as well as bulky items (furniture, appliances, etc.).  Residents who would like to be informed of cleanup events and programs can follow these organizations on social media, or register for email notifications at www.SalinasValleyRecycles.org.

Concerned citizens can help spread the word about cleanup events and proper disposal options in their communities. For those interested in helping to cleanup illegal dumping sites, Monterey County offers vouchers for a free disposal load (trailer or truckload) at a local disposal site, for public area community cleanup events organized by non-profit organizations, and cleanup of illegal dumpsites in Monterey County.  Together, we can help encourage participation in proper disposal and mitigate illegal dumping.

Information to report illegal dumping is available at mtyhd.org/illegaldumping and at keepmontereycountyclean.org that includes an online form. Salinas Valley Recycles is committed to promoting proper waste disposal and has currently entered into an agreement with Monterey County in partnership with Monterey Regional Waste Management District, to fund up to $100,000 of illegal dumping clean-up and litter abatement services in the rural areas of the county.  In turn Monterey County will hire non-profit organizations such as Hope Services or Rancho Cielo crews to pick up litter and clean illegal dumping sites.  Along with funding litter abatement, Salinas Valley Recycles works daily to promote services and educate public on available resources to reduce illegal dumping.  Please help spread the message.

— Wally Waste-Not

Ask Wally is presented by Salinas Valley Recycles to answer waste, recycling and disposal questions for the Salinas Valley. Residents and businesses of the Salinas Valley are invited to submit questions via www.SalinasValleyRecycles.org.

 

 Illegal dumping along San Juan Grade Road, also known as Salinas Road

Illegal dumping blights the bucolic scene on San Juan Grade Road