FOX 8 Defenders: City works to address ‘tremendous problem’ of illegal dumping

Updated: May. 22, 2019 at 9:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - 311 complaints for illegal dumping stretch across the city. Residents are tired of finding piles of trash appearing in their neighborhood. Fox 8 spoke to the New Orleans Sanitation Director to find out how the city is addressing the issue.

"I always come here all the time and just relax," said New Orleans resident Howard Atkins.

Yet, recently, Howard Atkins' place of peace has become an eyesore and potential safety hazard for the entire neighborhood.

"It's a mess, that's all I can say. It's really messed up," Atkins said. "There wasn't any dumping. That used to stay clean around here."

"I called in yesterday to be exact," said New Orleans resident Cynthia Woods, referring to 311. "Because we didn't have tires over there, then we woke up one morning and they're there."

Woods’ home on Benefit St. faces the blight beneath the interstate.

"We remove about 2,000 dumping sites every year. Last year, we removed 47,000 tires. This is a tremendous problem in the city," said New Orleans Sanitation Director Cynthia Sylain-Lear. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of persons who are dumping on state property, city property, private property."

As New Orleans Director of Sanitation, Cynthia Sylvain-Lear works to address illegal dumping in the city. She says the department works with enforcement. Crime cameras have helped catch several people in the act. When it comes to irresponsible property owners illegally leaving trash behind, Sylvain-Lear says sanitation rangers try to track them down and have them clean up their site.

"It's a challenge. We can't always find those property owners," said Sylvain-Lear.

Sylvain-Lear says Sanitation also works with other agencies to respond to calls, like the Department of Environmental Quality for tire heaps. Yet, there could also be a delay when it comes to issues like those.

"Waste tires are a serious concern, especially from the standpoint of West Nile and Zika," Sylvain-Lear said. "We are still under severe restrictions on the number of tires or even the number of days we can bring tires."

She says there's a problem with the city's tire processor. It can't take as many tires, which means the city can't address the larger tire piles.

"We are pushing the limit," Sylvain-Lear said.

Whether it's tires or sofas, residents agree illegal dumping is a serious problem that can only be solved when people take pride in their city.

"This is New Orleans and New Orleans is a nice place to keep it clean. If we can keep it clean, work together and keep it clean, I think it'll be a better place," Atkins said.

Sylvain-Lear says they prioritize 311 dumping calls based on the debris and the location. If trash is blocking a road or sidewalk, especially in a high-traffic area, or if it’s a health hazard, it’s likely to receive precedence. Sylvain-Lear stresses every 311 call will eventually be addressed and encourages residents to use the reporting line.

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