Dumping illegally? You may be spotted on hidden camera
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Wayne Fitzwater, a regional specialist for the state Department of Natural Resources, stands next to an old refrigerator and other garbage that someone dumped in the forest along Little River Road south of Port Angeles. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

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By the numbers

In 2010 on the North Olympic Peninsula state lands:

■ 76 tons of dumped garbage

■ 685 tires

■ 1,100 large appliances

■ 12 abandoned vehicles

■ Crews from Olympic Corrections Center collected 4,000 pounds of garbage spending 3,500 hours cleaning up road sides

Source: Wayne Fitzwater, Olympic region natural resource specialist
State Department of Natural Resources officials hope to use hidden camerals to catch people illegally dumping garbage and cars on state lands.

Such illegal dumps on state DNR lands are mapped out on the DNR website, http://tinyurl.com/4hwvfct.

The potential locations for the hidden cameras were not revealed.

The interactive map shows known illegal dump sites on the North Olympic Peninsula: 37 sites with household items, five sites with commercial or hazardous waste, and two abandoned vehicles.

Although those are the sites found this year, Wayne Fitzwater, DNR’s Olympic region natural resource specialist, said it just scratches the surface.

“Pretty much any forest road you can go down and find a dump site,” he said.

Fitzwater said it hasn’t necessarily increased, but that with the state budget in dire straits the department will be enforcing the rules more strongly.

“It ebbs and flows — you see a lot more toward the end of the month when people are moving and trying to avoid the cost of taking the stuff to a transfer station,” he said.

“We are definitely increasing surveillance.

“We cannot spend all the money we have been to be constantly cleaning it up.

“We will have the cameras out there and be doing a lot more enforcement.”

Most of the sites on the Peninsula were concentrated on the West End, mostly near U.S. Highway 101 or state Highway 112.

Household dump sites usually include items found at a home or a small dump site that appear to have been used by one person, DNR said.

Commercial or hazardous waste dump sites are larger and may include building materials and items from methamphetamine labs.

“The map is really accurate up to what we know right now,” said Larry Raedel, chief of law enforcement for DNR.

“There are some that haven’t been reported and some that have been found but haven’t made it through the system yet,” he added.

Raedel said the hidden cameras already are used in areas where cedar or alder trees have been stolen.

“We’ve used it particularly dealing with specialty woods,” he said.

“We are not opposed to putting up the cameras to catch the comings and goings from common theft sites.”

The department has decided to extend the use of hidden cameras to known dump sites.

“We are seeing that people are creatures of habit, and they are more likely to go back to an area a number of times,” Raedel said.

“We are seeing that a lot of these dump sites — especially on the Peninsula — occur just off of a highway or a county road where they can be back on the highway within a matter of minutes.”

Raedel said officers for DNR often clean up the sites and look for clues as to who might have dumped the items there.

“We are also seeing some cases with building materials where crews have been hired to strip off a roof and take it to a landfill, and they’ll just divert onto state land and dump it there and pocket the money,” he said.

“We’ll find all kinds of things including insulation, roofing tiles, all that kind of thing.”

DNR is asking people to note license plates or descriptions of anyone who might be illegally dumping trash on state lands.

“We don’t want them to put themselves in harm’s way,” he said.

“But just keep an eye out. We’ll get the information and follow up on it.

“These people who are doing this have no conscience whatsoever.”

Raedel said those who do spot suspicious activity should call 9-1-1.

Arrests have occurred when campers or hunters noted the license tag numbers of pickup trucks driving into the woods with a load of garbage or other debris and coming out later with an empty pickup bed.

The fines for illegal dumping of nonhazardous materials range from $90 to $500, depending on the quantity and other circumstances.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 20. 2011 11:07PM
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