FOLLOW-UP | 'Hot spots' still an issue for illegal dumping in Baltimore

Illegal dumpers face harsher penalties

BALTIMORE - A month after ABC2 In Focus aired a story about illegal dumping, some hot spots are still troublesome for city officials.

READ | Baltimore fighting back against illegal dumpers; Harsher penalties to come this fall

At least one person was arrested and charged shortly after our story aired, but the alley where he was clearly seen discarding a mattress looked the same a month later with appeared to be the same exact trash.

(See video)

“I will guarantee, if you got one of a number of sites that we know have been sites for illegal dumping you will probably see trash there,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “We will go [and] we will clean it up.”

The next day we went back out to the site to see if there mayor had kept her word. The mess had, in fact, finally been cleaned up, according to Diana Singleton who lives near the site. Even her kids took notice, she said.

“They were like ‘today’s not trash day’ and I said no it’s not trash day,” Singleton said. They asked me ‘what are they doing here?’ I said they must be cleaning up that trash there.”

The mayor says known dumping “hot spots” are checked regularly by city employees. But Singleton says that needs to be taken a step further—not only checked, but cleaned up weekly.

“They’ll see that at least once a week it’s a pile of something,” Singleton said, “either on this end of the other end.”

The city prioritizes areas where it receives the most dumping complaints.

INFOGRAPHIC: Convictions related to illegally dumped waste

“Unfortunately, until behavior changes, you will continue to see those hot spots: trash,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Baltimore woman Bernice Diggs has been an advocate for a better, cleaner Baltimore.

“Riding past the lot on my way to church I looked over and said ‘that’s a mess!” Biggs said standing in the halls of the Maryland State House in Annapolis Thursday. “After church I came back and took pictures and I just couldn’t believe my eyes what I saw because there was just so much trash.”

Diggs was in Annapolis to attend the final bill signing from the 2014 Maryland Legislative Session where Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a measure that toughens the laws against illegal dumping.

Illegal dumpers now face stiffer fines and up to five points on their license. The mayor said she needs this tool to stop the trash.

“This is how I feel,” Rawlings-Blake began. “You wouldn’t trash your house. It wouldn’t acceptable to trash our homes and neighborhoods. We fought very hard for this and I’m very proud to be here today.”

Diggs added, “I just wanted to bring it to somebody’s attention. I didn’t know it was going to lead to this.”

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