Board talks illegal dumping, security measures

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County leaders continued their discussion Thursday about increasing security at trash collection sites to curb illegal dumping.

District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz brought the issue before the board several weeks ago and suggested the county install a fence with a gate at the convenience site on state Route 55. Shruntz voiced frustration about the problem at the board’s work session Thursday.

“It’s just a crying shame that the ones that go by the rules and regulations, that we have to suffer, you know, or be criticized, everybody in one lump, just because of a few,” Shruntz said, adding that this week someone left two propane tanks at the site on state Route 55.

Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling told the board the county could install a fence and gate with in-house labor for $6,500. Price quotes from companies to install fences and gates ranged from $9,000 to $15,000 – amounts that Shruntz said left her shocked.

The county operates trash compactors at 13 collection sites. Sites stay open 64 hours a week, Felling said. However, each site provides walk-in access when closed. Local regulations and the state permit to operate compactors prohibit the county from accepting certain materials at the sites such as large items or chemicals, Felling said.

“Illegal dumping is a problem that we often struggle with,” Felling said. “It costs a lot of county resources.”

People have tossed refrigerators, furniture, mattresses and box springs or other large items in compactor hoppers. County workers must remove the items that block up the devices. The trash damages the machines and costs the county in the time workers must spend unclogging the equipment.

The county has operated security cameras at most of its convenience sites for years, Felling said. The Sheriff’s Office loaned cameras to the landfill that operates the convenience sites. As Felling explained to the board, county workers report to the Sheriff’s Office an approximate time when someone disposed of prohibited items at a site. The Sheriff’s Office can review the video recording and pursue charges if possible. The Sheriff’s Office made an arrest last month in a case of illegal dumping, Felling said.

The site on state Route 55 receives an inordinate amount of trash. The site received more trash in the first six months of this year than any other facility, Felling said.

“So one has to ask: Why does that site receive so much waste?” Felling said. “We have evidence – we know that there are vehicles with West Virginia plates that come to the site frequently.”

West Virginia does not require vehicles display license plates on the front, Felling said. In some cases the violators drive vehicles that lack a license plate in the front, park facing the camera, dispose of the items, then pull back out of the site so the recording does not pick up identifying tag numbers.

In response to Chairman Conrad Helsley’s question about the amount of cases pursued by the Sheriff’s Office, Felling said his department has handed over dozens.

Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass pointed out that authorities would need to prove that the trash originated outside of the locality.

Helsley later asked if Felling could come back to the board in six months with information on how many illegal dumping cases went through the court system and the results.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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