Abandoned piles of household garbage, bags of yard waste, appliances, old barrels, used tires, and demolition debris such as lumber, shingles, pipes and asbestos can threaten the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment. Known as open dumps, these sites can be found throughout Illinois -- heaped at the bottom of ravines, in empty lots and pastures, and along roadsides. An open dump is an illegal waste disposal site and should not be confused with a permitted municipal solid waste landfill or a recycling facility. If allowed to remain, open dumps often grow larger, and may attract dumping of both solid and hazardous wastes.
Open dumps pose the following health, safety, and environmental threats:
- Fire and explosion
- Inhalation of toxic gases
- Injury to children playing on or around the dump site
- Disease carried by mosquitoes, flies, and rodents
- Contamination of streams, rivers and lakes
- Contamination of soil and groundwater
- Contamination of drinking water
- Damage to plant and wildlife habitats
- Decrease in the quality of life to nearby residents and the local community
Open dumps create a public nuisance, divert land from more productive uses, and depress the value of surrounding land.
Open dumping is prohibited by law!
Causing or allowing open dumping is illegal, and may result in substantial penalties. Any of the following seven conditions at a dump site can result in the issuance of an Administrative Citation:
- Open burning
- Placement of waste in standing or flowing water
- Promoting an increase of disease-carrying organisms
- Standing or flowing liquid discharge from the dump site
- Deposition of construction or demolition debris
An Administrative Citation carries a $1,500 penalty for a first offense and a $3,000 penalty for a second or subsequent offense. A citation can be issued for any condition observed during every Illinois EPA inspection until the violation is resolved. In addition to an Administrative Citation, the state can pursue criminal charges and confiscate profits and vehicles that result from, or are used to carry out, open dumping.
Report open dumping to your local authorities!
Local law enforcement and public health officials have a duty to enforce open dumping laws, including provisions of the Environmental Protection Act. Counties and municipalities may impose additional penalties for open dumping.
Local authorities have the advantage of being close to the crime scene and can:
- Investigate to find evidence of the persons responsible for the open dumping
- Require an immediate clean up of the area
- Levy their own local fines for open dumping
- Issue citations or notices to appear in court
- Patrol the problem area after the clean up
- Report open dumping to the IDNR Tip Line at 1-877-2-DNR-LAW (1-877-236-7529)
What if I discover open dumping on my property?
Report open dumping to local law enforcement authorities or the local health department immediately.
Protect yourself against future open dumping:
- Put up barriers (locked cables and gates) to prevent physical access to the property.
- Post warning signs such as “NO DUMPING” or “NO TRESPASSING”.
- Clean up dump sites immediately to discourage further dumping.
- Notify local law enforcement and health departments as well as keep a log book. Record the date, time and description of what is dumped, and which authorities you notified each time you found signs of dumping.
- Ask local law enforcement officials to patrol the problem area more frequently.
- Alert adjoining property owners of the open dumping problem and enlist their help in a neighborhood watch program.
The dumpers and generators of the waste are liable and subject to enforcement action. Further, the landowner has a duty to prevent open dumping and to clean up any pollution on their property.