The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 8, 2012

Dumpers spread 11 tons of trash in Montour County

DANVILLE — A statewide environmental advocacy group said its survey of Montour County found seven illegal dump sites containing an estimated 11 tons of trash.

Six of the surveyed sites were within 50 feet of a waterway or body of water. Of those, four sites had waste materials in the water, according to a recent survey by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has identified 6,244 illegal dump sites with a total estimated tonnage of 18,022 tons since 2005. Thus far, its surveys have covered 61 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

In the Central Susquehanna Valley, a 2006 survey found 125 illegal dump sites, containing more than 1,600 tons of trash.

“The purpose of an illegal dump survey is to assess and document as many illegal dumpsites as possible within a county,” said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “The survey is a tool that can be used for planning purposes within a community, provide valuable insight into development of solid waste and recycling programs, and be used to gain support for funding for public awareness programs and education, as well as generate funds to clean the existing dumpsites.”

The organization has not made any organized effort to measure whether earlier surveys effectively translated into efforts to clean up the sites identified by the environmentalists.

Todd Crouch, a spokesman for Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, said the organization has been focused on conducting the initial surveys to demonstrate the need for action. It is up to state, municipal and individual Pennsylvanians to take that information and use it to mobilize the cleanup of these dump sites, he said.

Funding for the survey was provided through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

A spokeswoman for that agency said DEP has not yet measured the progress of environmental cleanups inspired by these surveys. The agency intends to examine the issue next year, spokeswoman Amanda Whitman said.

The survey process typically takes a year to complete. Municipalities, state agencies, environmental groups and other key stakeholders are contacted and information regarding known dumpsites is gathered. Surveyors then document sites. Standardized assessment forms are used to collect data, pictures are taken for documentation, as well as GPS coordinates for mapping purposes. KeepPennsylvania Beautiful surveys do not include private dumps or farm dumps.

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