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Tampa sees uptick in illegal dumping after Hurricane Irma

Code enforcement tracking violators
Posted at 2:55 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 16:03:41-05

TAMPA, Fla. — City of Tampa leaders have seen an uptick in illegal dumping since Hurricane Irma, according to code enforcement leaders.

Code enforcement officers are seeing more than usual numbers of people dumping garbage, especially in key hotspots like Sulphur Springs and East Tampa.

That’s hardly news to Billy Simpson and his sister, Nelda Doherty. 

“It’s a health hazard,” Simpson said. “They urinate. Have people hiding back here.”

They live across the street from a growing pile of garbage that the city continues to clear away but violators continue to dump again and again.

“I look across the street and see this pile this huge pile,” Doherty said. “Now, you’ve got them on camera and if they’re arrested for this, then word is going to get around.”

Neighborhood Empowerment Department and the Solid Waste and Environmental Program Management have teamed up with the Tampa Police Department in conjunction with East Tampa Revitalization Community Partnership Environmental Crime Detective to address illegal dumping.

Illegal dumping is a serious problem affecting the entire city, according to code enforcement.

In fiscal year 2017; Neighborhood Enhancement (formerly Clean City) disposed nearly 2,979 tons of waste costing $210,264, code enforcement leaders said.

“Illegal dumping interrupts the activity of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of public and private sector. This can be an overwhelming problematic expenditure,” said Detective L Miles, Tampa Police Department Environmental Crime Detective. “These costs are an inconvenience to our residing customers.”

East Tampa Revitalization Community Partnership developed an Environmental Crime Unit which combats illegal dumping in the East Tampa area. 

As a deterrent, surveillance cameras are put in place to monitor most of the East Tampa illegal dumping hot spots, according to the City of Tampa.

There have been several cases where the motion surveillance cameras have provided enough evidence which led to the arrest of offenders, the city said.

With the use of the cameras, the illegal dumping issues have reduced somewhat within the East Tampa area which shows the success of the cameras, according to the city.

If caught, violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of law being charged civilly or criminally for improper disposal of debris that is not transported to the proper disposal site. 

The violation of the offense can be as small as a fine up to a misdemeanor or felony charge, city leaders said.

“You can get your vehicle seized. You’re going to get your assets taken. You’re going to get fined. You could go to jail,” said Sal Ruggiero, director of City of Tampa Code Enforcement.

Code enforcement is now asking people who have waste to dispose of it for free at the McKay Bay Waste Site. All you need is your ID.

You can also contact solid waste and they will come to your home and pick it up for a fee.

“It’s going to cost you a few bucks but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run,” Ruggiero said.