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A dirty issue: Harrisburg addresses illegal trash dump sites

Harrisburg City officials said they are tired of seeing their city trashed, literally.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Harrisburg City is tackling the dirty issue of illegal trash dumping. Officials said they’re stepping up enforcement of dumping laws in order to make the city cleaner.

Multiple sites throughout the city are piled up with trash, often dumped by people who don’t live there.

Illegal trash dumps are a problem both ugly and bad for the environment.

Landfills are designed to contain waste and keep any dangerous materials from seeping into the ground. In contrast, leaving trash on the ground can pollute the soil and groundwater in the area.

Depending on what’s being dumped, illegal dump sites can attract vermin and insects. Mosquitoes are known to breed in the stagnant rainwater that pools in abandoned tires.

“You’re going to create termites, other animals to come and fester, and it’s going to be torn up all over the place,” Dave West, director of the city’s Department of Public Works, said. “It just makes it bad for the community. It looks bad when you have illegal dumping all over this area.”

West said city officials are working to educate people about responsible ways to recycle and dispose of trash. For example, each household can leave one large item—such as a mattress—a week for pickup with the normal trash collection. Tires can be recycled for as little as $2 per tire.

They are also installing cameras at some high-volume dump sites to identify repeat dumpers.

In Harrisburg, the penalty for dumping trash illegally is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.

Hot Spot Saturdays is a new initiative where residents volunteer to pick up litter on the weekends.

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