Pinellas County is getting ready to charge a handful of landscaping crews for illegally dumping debris in vacant lots. The county says the dumping is drastically slowing them down from getting debris cleaned out from neighborhoods.
Every day, the debris pile outside Michael Palandro’s Palm Harbor home grows.
Illegal dumpers are ditching paint cans, plastic bags, washing machines, tree debris and even a vacuum cleaner outside his cul-de-sac.
As the debris stacks up, Palandro only gets more anxious to get rid of it. “Whether they realize they’re doing something wrong or not, they just go ahead and do it because they see a pile and say I’ll just drop it off here and someone else will pick it up.”
Pinellas County says getting it picked up could take longer. Illegal dumpers are slowing them down.
“We cleared a road off yesterday and there are new piles on it today," debris management coordinator Sean Tipton explained.
Tipton says it isn’t just other people doing the dumping, but landscaping companies. The county plans to press charges against a handful of companies next week.
“Instead of taking it to a proper disposal site, they are finding secluded areas and dumping it there,” Tipton added.
Dumping is a 3rd degree felony and Pinellas County plans to hold any illegal dumpers accountable. “If it continues, who knows how long it will take for us to clean up all this debris?," Tipton said.
That’s why Pinellas County needs your help. If you catch someone dumping in your neighborhood, you can take pictures and email them to watershed@pinellas county.org.
Crews continue to work seven days a week to clear debris and are currently active across most of the county. A first pass to collect vegetation debris is expected to be completed by the end of October with a second pass to follow, which will also include construction/demolition debris.