Surveillance cameras deterring illegal dumpers

Laura Howells
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It’s been a year since surveillance cameras helped seven communities discourage illegal dumping, and the province’s Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) says the initiative has greatly reduced dumping activity.

Brian Cranford, enforcement manager with the Town of Conception Bay South, points to some garbage dumped in an area of C.B.S. where the town has just installed surveillance cameras.

The dumping of garbage in out-of-the-way areas is a major environmental issue for many towns in the province. Conception Bay South first implemented a surveillance program to combat the problem in 2010.

Mayor Ken McDonald says, as a result, illegal dumping has been reduced by more than 90 per cent.

“You only need a couple of pictures of somebody throwing it out of the trucks and going before the court, and get that out into the media, and people soon learn that they don’t want their name spread over town when they’re dumping out garbage,” he said.

Based on the success in C.B.S., the MMSB partnered with the town to create an illegal dumping surveillance program. In 2013, the MMSB provided $65,000 to pay for equipment and training for seven communities. Since then, eight other communities have independently funded surveillance programs, including St. John’s, Grand Falls-Windsor and Carbonear.

Mike Samson, chief executive officer of the MMSB, says the program is working well.

“The 15 communities that are involved in the surveillance and enforcement program all noted significant decreases in the amount of dumping occurring in their areas, whether those areas are under surveillance or not,” said Samson. “We believe that the program will grow as the word spreads about its success.”

The program places two or three hidden cameras at sites where illegal dumping is common. One camera captures images of vehicles driving into the site, and another gets them on the way out.

“The ideal part of it is if it’s someone in a truck, we don’t have to see them actually throw out the garbage. If we catch a truck coming in with garbage in the back and the truck comes out empty, then we know that they threw the garbage out,” said McDonald.

“And that gives enough evidence to charge them in court.”

At any given time there may be three or four surveillance sites set up in each community. However, locations change frequently, depending on where illegal dumping is occurring.

“You’ll set up there and you may not even clean up the garbage right away,” said McDonald.

“You’ll leave it as bait to make them think it’s still safe to throw the garbage there and not get caught. People have to be careful because it could be the day they decide to do it, that’s the day we’re in that area.”

Since the program was established, there has been about 10 convictions for illegal dumping in C.B.S., with most perpetrators paying fines of $500 to $1,000, McDonald says.

The RNC has assigned an illegal dumping liaison officer to investigate reports of illegal dumping.  “There is a waste-management infrastructure in this province that is available to people, that is convenient to people, and there really isn’t any reason for this sort of thing to be done,” said Samson.

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Organizations: Grand Falls-Windsor and Carbonear.Mike Samson

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