County surveils convenience centers for illegal dumping

The county citizen convenience center on state Route 55 is covered by security cameras. If the cameras capture anyone dumping illegally, the county will send information to the Sheriff's Office. Jake Zuckerman/Daily

STRASBURG – Shenandoah County sanitation employees have placed several security cameras at citizen convenience sites in response to reports of people throwing away prohibited materials.

A sign recently placed at the dump off state Route 55 warns users of the new cameras.

“Discarding prohibited materials in the compactor is illegal dumping,” the sign states. “Video surveillance of illegal dumping incidents will be turned over to the Sheriff’s Office for prosecution.”

Patrick Felling, director of solid waste management for the county, said sanitation employees put up the sign and began ramping up security to curb a recent spike in illegal dumping.

“We’re doing that because we’ve had a lot of illegal dumping that wastes county resources,” Felling said. “We’re trying to put out the word that that is not acceptable, and yes, we actually see what people are doing.”

He said his office is looking into opening two investigations from offenses roughly a week ago, and two more may be coming as well.

Capt. Wes Dellinger of the Sheriff’s Office said in the past that deputies have helped to curtail illegal dumping.

“They’ve given us information when those things occur,” he said referring to the county sanitation workers. “They get the vehicle tag numbers, then we ID and charge them.”

The Sheriff’s Office has not issued illegal dumping charges since May, according to Dellinger.

The posted photos at the convenience center depict four people, all dumping illegal materials that include paint cans, a table, a palette and construction debris.

The county Board of Supervisors has been working through the issue for several months now. At its work session Sept. 1, the board discussed a proposal to build a lockable fence to prevent illegal dumping at night when most offenses occur.

According to the meeting minutes, the problem has been costing the county money due to maintenance issues with the compactor and costs of labor to remove the illegal items.

“During the times the sites are closed, we have frequent incidents of illegal dumping, when people carry large items (e.g. mattresses, couches, etc.) into the site and place them either on the ground or into the compactor hopper,” the minutes state. “Some of items (sic) can damage the facility if they are placed within the compactors. In addition, illegal dumping is costly to the County, because landfill staff must be diverted from their regular duties and dispatched to collect the items.”

Banned items at the State Route 55 site include commercial waste, petroleum products, tires, brush, construction debris, paint cans, furniture, appliances, scrap metal, televisions and carpet.

On Friday, several banned items including a toilet, a carpet and construction debris were found.

Despite the recent trouble, Felling said the cameras should solve the dumping issue.

Felling said that he expects that as word gets out about the Sheriff’s Office involvement and that the area is under surveillance that instances of illegal dumping will drop sharply.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.