Dressed head to toe in hazmat suits and wearing respirators, Township of Langley crews spent Thursday and Friday shoveling old drywall and other construction debris off the side of the road.
The crews were dealing with the latest in a string of illegal dumping events, that township sustainability manager Ryan Schmidt said are costing the municipality big bucks.
“The problem is quite bad. Each site has taken a crew, one foreman, a water truck and several haul trucks 13 hours to clean up. We’ve collected up over 1,000 bags … of garbage,” Schmidt said.
In the last three weeks, someone has dumped large loads of construction waste like this six times. Crews need to be in full protective gear, in case any of the material has asbestos in it.
The price tag for the cleanup? About $40,000, or 10 per cent of what the municipality usually spends in an entire year to deal with illegal dumping.
Ron Foerter lives on Rawlison Crescent, across the street from where one load was dumped.
“I guess it’s because it’s full of asbestos they’re dumping it and they don’t want to pay the fees,” he said.
“If I had a camera set up last week, I could have probably got them.”
Catching them is the problem.
The Township of Langley’s illegal dumping fine is only about $500, but Schmidt said the real problem is identifying who is doing the dumping.
The city has opened hundreds of case files in the last three years, but only managed to issue seven tickets.
“It’s very hard to catch the people who are responsible and hold them accountable,” he said.
“What we really need is the public’s help — if you’re out an night, working a night shift, driving through the community and it’s dark, if you see anything suspicious, please jot down a licence plate and contact us.”
The Township of Langley has a dedicated illegal dumping hotline at 1-844-SEE-DUMP, and also accepts complaints through its website.
— With files from Catherine Urquhart