Illegal dumps look bad, pollute the land and water, and can force property values down. Three dozen illegal dump sites have been identified in Carrick. Most have been cleaned up.
2021 saw a push to clean up illegal dump sites in Pittsburgh. The city started to monitor illegal dumping better, brought together city agencies that used to work the dumping problem separately and engaged the public better about the issue.
Ten of those Carrick sites have been assessed but not cleaned up. None of the remaining are classified as big projects, although together they may hold around 32 tons of trash, a number that’s based on initial estimates that have not been verified.
Three of the illegal dump sites relate to Beck’s Run, including one beneath East Meyers.
Many of the sites are visible from the street.
Several times a year, volunteers from Carrick Community Council organize trash cleanups to keep Carrick Clean. Illegal dumps go beyond that.
Illegal dump sites are an issue across Pennsylvania. The number was up substantially in 2020, due to factors related to the coronavirus epidemic, including people being evicted, and also partly due to more reporting as people were outside more. A study concluded that illegal dumping costs Pennsylvania $68 million a year.
Neighborhoods adjacent to Carrick have their own illegal dump sites, according to data from Allegheny CleanWays, which provides a map of illegal dump sites across Allegheny County:
- Brookline has seen several dump sites cleaned, one is in progress, and several were assessed but not completed.
- Knoxville has a lot of cleaned-up dump sites with many still to do.
- Mt Oliver City has had three successful cleanups.
- Overbrook has five dump sites to be cleaned up.
- St Clair had five reported illegal dump site. All have been cleaned up.
- Baldwin Borough has one dump site to be cleaned.
- Brentwood has one site cleaned up and one assessed but not cleaned up.
In Carrick, seven of the sites are storm drains that have been adopted.
Less trash in a neighborhood can improve people’s moods. In Philadelphia, when blighted neighborhoods were cleaned and greenery was planted, people who lived there “reported 41.5 percent less depression over the course of three years,” PublicSource wrote.
Dumping trash is illegal. First conviction can be a summary offense with a $50 fine, while it can run into the thousands of dollars to clean a site.
People can report an illegal dump site at Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, an alliance of people and state agencies that work to keep communities clean and beautiful.
City crews are prevented from picking up garbage in dumps on private land and steep hillsides. That’s where Allegheny CleanWays – which works to eliminate illegal dumping and littering in Allegheny County – comes in. They enter private lands and climb steep hillsides to clean sites with at least 50 pounds of trash. Over the years, Allegheny CleanWays has removed more than 5 million pounds of garbage from illegal dump sites.
Eliminating dumps in a neighborhood makes it look better, removes sources of pollution, protects property values and leaves people felling better.