Saint John city council is working to shut down an illegal dump that has been operating on the city's east side for the past few years.

The unsanctioned dump operates on a dead end road near Marsh Lake, where no trespassing signs are posted.

People are well aware of what is happening at the site and have called to complain, said Coun. David Merrithew.

"This is illegal dumping," Merrithew said.

"All of these people in the surrounding area would be on wells. If he's putting garbage here or building material and then burning it, it could affect their ground water supply."

'This is an illegal dump and if you're dumping here, you may have to clean up your own mess at the end of the day.' - Coun. David Merrithew

Residents approached by CBC News said they sometimes see dozens of trucks approaching the dump on Worden Drive, and the Saint John Fire Department was called to the site on two occasions in the past five months.

"We've been there close to a dozen times on a fire prevention response, meaning whether it's citizen complaints or referrals," said Fire Chief Kevin Clifford. "So that's actually around 12 times in 2013."

Clifford said his biggest concern is the burning of debris.

"Always a concern in any type of debris site is you're worried about an entrenched fire that could take days to knock down."

Permitted landfills run by solid waste commissions

Some neighbours were under the impression that the owner had a permit to run a landfill, however, the Department of Environment said that isn't the case.

Saint John illegal dump Worden Dr.

The Saint John Fire Chief said his department has been called to the Worden Drive site twice in the last five months. (CBC)

Mark Barbour, a spokesperson for the department, said there are no dumps in the province that have permits aside from the solid waste commissions.

The owner of the property couldn't be reached for comment, but Merrithew said the violations could range from illegal dumping to keeping an unsightly premise.

Merrithew admitted shutting down the dump will take some time, but in the meantime, he said people should be taking their garbage to a permitted landfill site.

"This is an illegal dump and if you're dumping here, you may have to clean up your own mess at the end of the day," he said.

Saint John looked into 485 cases of illegal dumping in 2012.

It is expensive to clean up after illegal dumpers, according to city estimates.

Saint John officials estimate it cost $77,782 in staff time to clean up the 485 work orders and it cost $10,762 in landfill fees to dispose of the garbage.

The provincial government collected roughly $4,000 in fines from illegal dumping between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Fines for illegal dumping can range from $500 to $20,500 for individuals and from $1,000 to $1 million for companies.