It is obvious that Consequences of Illegal Dumping in America are very harsh. As, Illegal dumping is a worldwide problem. According to estimates, there are approximately 100 million tons of illegal garbage in the world. This problem not only affects the big cities in the US but also the rural areas in the country.
Illegal dumping as a practice affects public health, wreaks havoc on the environment, and increase public taxes. It is believed that only a few people in comparison to the overall population are responsible for the mess but the fact is that it affects practically everyone under the sun. Since the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy is adopted while dumping illegally, it is important to note here that the economic, environmental and public health costs that this activity brings along are very significant and are worth mentioning.
It is fortunate that cities across the country have taken measures with respect to enforcement and raising awareness about the issue in the recent past. In addition, the technological tools available today make it easier for everyone to report illegal dumping sites across the US to local authorities. Backed by tough penalties in case of violations, it is felt that the combination is working in changing the behavior of the people and they are thinking twice before throwing away that set of old tires or that old cupboard which is not of much use now. Here we give you an overview of the problem and the consequences of illegal dumping in America.
Can be charged as a felony offense
While it is dependent on the policy on the local and state level, but the fact is that illegal dumping is a misdemeanor or felony offense that can result in some jail time. The range varies from as low as $50 to as high as thousands of dollars, again dependent on the dumping activity. Some states have also taken the lead in order to put in place tougher penalties for offenders. For example, New Jersey introduced a new plan in 2014 that punished illegal dumpers with fines that went up to $50,000 and also included forfeiture of vehicles involved in dumping and some jail time. This campaign, known as ‘Don’t Waste Our Open Space’ included a state-wide crackdown on illegal dumping by placing hidden cameras in strategic locations near the common dump sites.
Health costs involved
Illegal dumping not only is an offense but also puts a great burden on the healthcare system. The immediate risks emerging out of the illegal dumping include physical and chemicals injury to people, children, and senior citizens as they may come in touch with the dangerous debris that may have nails, chemicals, or other sharp objects and metals. In addition to these basic issues, adverse health risks also come into the picture when dangerous chemicals like automobile fluids, industrial waste, appliances that contain chemicals (e.g. refrigerators) tire are dumped in an illegal manner. The chemicals from this waste enter into the soil and waterways, the same soil that is then used to grow crops and water that we drink. This is the beginning of a major health disaster.
Also, illegal dumping activity attracts various rodents, vermin, and mosquitoes. These disease-carrying rodents thrive in such an environment and then pose a threat to public health. Similarly, mosquitoes grow inside the moist, warm conditions by the disposed of tires. According to a report, mosquitoes multiply 100 times faster in the warm, stagnant water standing in the scrap tires as compared to a normal scenario.
Since the economic costs to illegal dumping are not ‘in the face’, it is often believed that they are ignored easily. But the fact is illegal dumping costs you a lot of money. It has been found that some urban areas in America have spent a significant amount of money while dealing with the issue of illegal dumping. Overall, the country spends millions of dollars on the clean-up and disposal of the illegally dumped waste. For instance, Pennsylvania alone spends over $10 million per year to get rid of the roadside litter and $835 per ton to clean up an illegal dumpsite. Apart from the direct impact via taxation, illegal dump also results in lower property value in the area because of the safety and aesthetic concerns.
Here comes the most important one. Illegal dumping also results in hampering the environment more than you can imagine. Apart from a bad site for the eyes, illegal dumping also increases the risk of flooding and forest fire. As mentioned before, the chemicals from waste and various appliances can degrade the quality of soil and water in nearby areas. The fire and flood issues bring in very high financial and environmental implications.
Difference between littering and dumping
There is a significant difference between the small quantity of waste that is placed on the roadside and disposing of a large volume of waste weight of debris. While the former is known as littering which includes throwing a candy wrapper outside the car window or small quantity of house waste, the latter is illegal dumping which includes dumping furniture, tires, mattresses, or construction debris. It is not to say that littering is fine. The difference is critical because littering is considered as a minor offense in most cases but illegal dumping can lead to felony charges, heavy fines, and most importantly, jail time.
It is important to note here that states have defined what can be categorized as litter and what can be categorized as illegal dumping. For example, Georgia considers litter being less than 10 lbs or under 15 cubic feet in volume. Similarly, over 10 lbs or greater than 15 cubic feet in volume is considered as waste. In terms of fines that are involved, littering attracts a fine of $100 at least while illegal dumping can attract fines of up to $25000 and/or two years of prison for the second offense.
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