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Combating illegal dumping in Monterey County

Illegal dumping continues to be a problem in Monterey County and every year the Litter Abatement Program collects 150 to 200 tons of roadside waste.

It’s a seven day a week operation with litter abatement crews going out to different parts of the county.

The county has been tracking the dumpsites since 2015 and the trends are clear.

“Old Stage Road, you have Zabala, Hartnell Road and San Juan Grade,” said litter guard Manuel Robledo.

There are also dumping sites in Greenfield and areas of North Monterey County.

Monterey County says it collected more than 217 tons of litter in 2016 which is about 434,000 pounds.

It broke down to more than 3,900 bags of trash with nearly 1,700 tires, 500 mattresses and nearly 140 couches.

The trash comes at a cost with penalties for first time offenses ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Illegal dumping can also pose a fire hazard as well as health problems because it can attract mosquitos, rats and wildlife.

The trash can also impact the environment and lead to pollution in the ocean which is why the county’s environmental health team is dispatched to sites containing hazardous material such as old paint and motor oil.

“Monterey County has lots of tributaries, both big and small. We have sloughs and waterways and the Salinas River for example. So we try to minimize the impact of these materials out there and try to get them off the street as quickly, when they’re found, as quickly as possible. Again, illegal dumping is an attractant for illegal dumping and the quickly we can resolve it, the better,” Maria Ferdin, Supervisor for Solid Waste with the County Health Department, said.

Local landfill companies do offer free disposal on some things.

“You’ve got some paint or pesticides, our hazard waste program will accept those materials free of charge. Maybe you’ve got a mattress you swapped out and need to replace. We accept mattresses free of charge and we send them out free of charge. Then there’s the debris or junk that you just want to get rid of. That comes in for disposal and we charge a fee to cover the cost of that service,” said Jeff Lindenthal, Director of Communications and Sustainability.

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