Illegal dumpers aren't as anonymous as they think
Identifying information found on court and eviction orders, pawn shop receipts, pill bottles
A municipal solid waste expert says a survey of illegal dump sites in Nova Scotia found that in 71 per cent of cases it's possible to identify whose garbage it is by what the perpetrators left behind.
Kirk Symonds, solid waste educator for 13 municipalities on the South Shore and West Hants, told CBC's Information Morning it's often possible to find names, addresses, and even social insurance numbers on letters and bills, court orders, pawn shop receipts, pill bottles and eviction orders.
The findings come from a recent survey of 118 illegal dump sites across the province, conducted by the Waste Resource Association of Nova Scotia.
Municipalities with enforcement officers can use that identifying information to contact the alleged dumper and order them to clean up their garbage, Symonds said. In some cases, they might fine them, even though the penalty rarely covers the municipality's court costs.
Symonds said prosecution is still worthwhile "because that's going to send a message to other illegal dumpers that this is going to cost you."
Life events are triggers
He said it's a myth that illegal dumpers are people who simply don't care. In most cases, he said they're triggered by a life event such as a divorce, eviction, or move. In some cases they made the mistake of hiring the wrong kind of help.
"One of the ones we hear a lot of is: they've hired somebody else to dispose of their waste and instead of paying the dumping fee, they will actually illegally dump that waste," Symonds said.
More than 50 per cent of illegal dump sites are cleaned up by municipalities, he said, and it can be dangerous work. Just this week an enforcement officer in Shelburne found a bag of syringes and hydromorphone bottles, Symonds said.
An internal survey conducted for the Waste Resource Association of Nova Scotia, helped Symonds paint a picture of who is doing most of the illegal dumping in the province. The survey showed that young men in rural areas were the worst culprits, and renters are next in line.
The public reported 1,025 illegal dump sites in Nova Scotia between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. Of those, 952 were investigated, according to Resource Recovery Fund Board Inc., which was recently recently renamed Divert NS.
With files from Rachel Ward, Information Morning