BIDWELL — The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of illegal dumping sites throughout Gallia County and searching for individuals littering as part of annual cleanup operations.
“We’ve got several of them (dump sites),” said Lt. Kevin Werry of the sheriff’s office and coordinator of the Gallia County Work Release Center. “Campaign Cemetery is one of them. It’s a pretty good-sized dump.. The other is on Left Fork Road. The other is on Safford School Road.”
Officers and work release cleanup crews cleaned up the dump Tuesday on Left Fork Road. Werry estimated that 300 pounds of garbage was removed from the road.
“It was tires, couches, raw garbage and just miscellaneous stuff,” Werry said. “It was a bunch of household items.”
Werry said the Safford School Road dump had a large amount of building material left in piles such as broken drywall. Campaign Cemetery had “tons of house trash” and the lieutenant estimated it may take a week to clean up the site.
“Trash is on the back side of the cemetery,” Werry said. “We’ve been investigating all of them and trying to get criminal charges pushed. It’s (the dumping) getting pretty out of hand.”
Werry said the county has always had a problem with illegal dumping throughout the years. This year, the problem seems to be growing in frequency with alleged high prices for waste disposal being charged to local residents.
Minor cases of dumping can result in fines of $500 and 60 days in jail. Major incidents of dumping can be potentially classified as felonies and can have fines of up to $10,000 to $25,000. A few years incarceration may also follow.
Officers estimate roughly 58,000 pounds of trash were collected last year. They year before that, it was estimated that 62,000 pounds were collected. Officers have already collected around 11,000 already and estimate this year may break their previous collection records if trash is still being discovered at the current rate.
Officers say they will be patrolling county roads and following through on public tips in an attempt to keep the trash problem under control. Werry emphasized that cleanup crews often had to be cautious when going through the trash as no one has any idea as to what could be found.
“You’ve got to be careful when you’re looking,” Werry said. “You’re never sure what you’ll run into out there. We’re talking tons of stuff. There could be needles in there. You’ve got to be careful.”
Police ask that if the public has any tips on illegal dumping to contact (740) 446-6555.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.