Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping can be defined as the disposal of waste items in a manner not in accordance with the County Solid Waste Plan. In Cambria County, the problem is widespread.

What is Illegal Dumping?
The Illegal Dump Map
Illegal dumping is the disposal of wastes in an area where it is unpermitted, often to avoid paying the costs for proper disposal. This type of dumping usually takes place along roadsides in remote areas or just outside of neighborhoods. Most people will not travel very far to illegally dump. Another type of illegal dumping involves theft of services - placing one's own personal trash in someone else's trash receptacles.
In 2009, staff of the Solid Waste Authority began a complete re-survey of the entire County. We ride every road, look over every bank, and check out every single dead-end road. In our efforts to find dump sites, we have discovered that the extent of the problem is even greater than we originally thought. Click here to see the most up to date map of illegal dump sites in Cambria County.
What is in an Illegal Dump Site?
PA CleanWays Surveys
The short answer is "everything and anything". Dump sites include household trash, construction waste, furniture, tires, recyclables, appliances, carcasses, and just about anything else.
Survey work started in 2009 was in cooperation with PA CleanWays in order to map, chart, and thoroughly document the County's illegal dumping problem. Click here for information on the survey work. The surveys were completed in April, 2010. To view the findings, click here (.pdf).
Why is Illegal Dumping a Problem?
Illegal dumping is a problem not only because it spoils the beauty of Cambria County's forested roads, but also can create serious health risks. Children may use these areas to "explore", which may lead to physical harm (nails and sharp metal) and chemical harm (car batteries, cleaners and the like). Chemicals may also leach out of these dumps into drinking water supplies, as well as pollute surface water such as streams and ponds.

These sites can also be harmful to wildlife that live around them. Animals may consume chemicals found in dumps, or become trapped amongst the mangled mess of tires, plastic containers and metal scrap.

Another major problem associated with illegal dumps is fire. Dumps are sometimes lit on fire, or spontaneously combust. Burning of materials found in dumps can lead to the release of harmful chemicals into the air, only to rain down on other parts of the area. Dump fires can easily spread to their surroundings as well.

Dump Site Clean-ups

Dump site clean-ups always seem to be too few, but they do occur. When an area is cleaned, it is returned to its natural condition before any trash existed in the area.

Organizations such as PA CleanWays are dedicated to the clean-up and prevention of illegal dumping and littering. In cooperation with such organizations as well as local municipalities, the Authority plans clean-ups each year to help rid the County of this problem.

Each year a program called the "Great PA Cleanup" seeks to aid groups in dealing with dumping. For information, please click here.


What is Being Done About the Problem?
The Cambria County Solid Waste Authority, along with 63 local municipalities, are trying to combat illegal dumping in the County. Nearly every municipality has an area where illegal dumping is taking place. These areas have been mapped and are being watched by the Authority Compliance Officer and other agencies. The Authority will be using various types of surveillance equipment at these sites to monitor and catch violators in the act, and also to help prosecute these violators. Manpower and equipment will be used to try to clean up some of the common places that material is dumped.
What Can You Do to Prevent Illegal Dumping?
Illegal dumps seem to only attract more and more waste. Some think that because there is already material on the ground, it must be ok for them to add to it. It is not. If you know of an illegal dump and see persons using the site, do not approach. Call the Cambria County Solid Waste Authority or your local law enforcement immediately. Reports can be anonymous, and we will act on every tip we receive. To report dumping, click here for contact info.