Taking out the trash

County tackles illegal dump, installs surveillance device

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Contrary to what some people may think, the wash next to Moffat County Road 64 west of town isn't a dump.

The land is private property, and the owner is tired of people leaving refrigerators, satellite dishes and old tires there.

"That's devaluing my property," said Tony Maneotis, the owner of the land.

Maneotis has never caught anyone in the act, but he said dumping has been a problem at the wash for a few years.

"My (home) is clean," Maneotis said. "When I go back to my property, I want it to be clean, too."

Maneotis asked the Moffat County commissioners to do something about the dump because there is so much junk, he can't clear it out himself.

Commissioners gave the Road and Bridge Department permission to clean the trash at Tuesday's meeting.

On Thursday, crews were at the site using a track hoe to clean the massive pile of junk.

Road and Bridge Director Bill Mack said illegal dumping has been a problem before, but this particular spot is worse than most.

"It looks to me like it is kind of a community landfill," Mack said.

The size of the dump isn't the only problem, Mack said. The old refrigerators contain Freon, a hazardous chemical.

"Some of that stuff is kind of a health hazard to my crews," Mack said.

Dumps can't take refrigerators unless the Freon is drained, which costs about $25.

"Someone has to pay for that," Mack said. "This is a hardship on the road department and, ultimately, the taxpayers. It does nothing but cost the taxpayers money."

Mack hopes to catch some of the people who dumped at the site. Some of the appliances there had serial numbers, which he turned over to Moffat County Sheriff's Office. Mack said the Environmental Protection Agency can levy a $10,000 fine for illegally dumping Freon.

Mack said crews installed a surveillance device near the dump to catch future dumpers.

"If you're out there dumping trash, smile, you're on candid camera," Mack said. "If you throw trash at the end of a culvert, it is illegal dumping, and you can be fined for it."

Moffat County Sheriff Sgt. Rick Holford said people can be charged with littering for illegal dumping.

"It doesn't pack much punch, but it makes them go pick it up," Holford said.

Holford said the Sheriff's Office has caught people dumping in the past because they throw away mail with their addresses on it. He said catching people for dumping at C.R. 64 could be more difficult because people aren't dumping household trash, but large appliances and junk.

Jesse Gray, the heavy equipment operator cleaning up the dump Thursday, said the size of the dump was a shame.

"It's too bad the taxpayers have to pay for other taxpayers' abuse," Gray said.

Maneotis said he might fill the wash with dirt to stop future dumping.

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