Oct 2, 2012 5:23 PM by Lacey Steele

Illegal dumping problems rising rapidly in Pueblo

It's a dirty job, and it's getting worse.

We introduce you to Code Enforcers who try to catch those who dump trash illegally.

It's a growing problem, but we found out, offenders are hard to catch.

Random trash, furniture, tree limbs, and mattresses scattered on the ground in many places across Pueblo.

There have been 285 illegal dump sites reported in Pueblo County already this year.

That's up from about 150 at this time during a typical year.

Code Enforcement can be a nasty and sometimes dangerous job, between angry pets and angry property owners.

"Had people standing that had come out with baseball bats telling me, 'You get out of the car, I'm going to conk you over the head,'" said Melvin Tompkins of Code Enforcement. "We just drive off."

Most of the time, however, no one is home.

"I know that got dumped because that wasn't sitting there yesterday," said Tompkins.

Prairie land has been the favorite spot for illegal dumpers in the past, but Tompkins says dumpers now often look for vacant homes.

"I know this address," said Tompkins. "I know it's vacant. The owners are both deceased."

Imagine dumping your trash at someone elses' house.

So who's to blame?

Code Enforcement looks for clues in the trash, which is anything with a name and address on it.

"It's amazing how the dumpers have gotten pretty smart with how we operate," said Tompkins.

Which means most of the time they can't find anything, but even when they do, they always get the same answers.

"'It's not mine,' or we do run into situations, it's amazing how most of the time they'll say, 'Well, I paid some guy in a red pickup truck to haul it off for me," said Tompkins.

They're seeing this on private property all over Pueblo.

"They just will pull up at night when no one is around, and they'll just throw out what they want to get rid of and leave it for someone else to clean up," said Tompkins.

If the dumper can't be found, a Code Enforcement crew cleans it up.

Tompkins says it's the economy.

Many people can't afford to dump at the landfill.

He says the cost has doubled and tripled over the past few years.

Dumps at vacant homes may sound unbelievable to some people, like hundreds of tires at one house or a huge mess completely filling the backyard at another one, and even when the violator isn't found, it still has to be cleaned up.

If you can't afford to go to the landfill, you should think twice before you dump illegally.

There are other options.

This month, on Saturday, October 20, there will be a chance to dump at the landfill sponsored by the city and Waste Connections.

The good news?

It's free!

On that day from 8am to 1pm (weather permitting), you can take cars and trucks filled with solid waste, trash, and yard trimmings.

If you take a trailer, it will cost 40% of the posted gate rate.

The are not accepting certain items like tires, hazardous waste, televisions, computers, electronics, paints, liquids, poisons, cleaners, oil, toxics, or appliances with freon.

All loads must be covered.



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