MDEQ called in to handle problem of illegal dumping

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 19, 2001

Natchez resident Odesia Minor almost can’t bear to look into her backyard. &uot;Who wants to live in a dump like this,&uot; Minor said. &uot;This looks worse than the city dump.&uot; Over the past year, Minor said, someone has been dumping what appears to be construction debris on a property at Millette and Inez streets. That property backs up to a bayou next to Minor’s property on 6 Hampton Court.

&uot;It’s a disgrace,&uot; said Minor, who worries that the pile of trash will attract snakes and others pests.

Minor said she is not certain who is dumping the debris, but she contacted Natchez officials, who turned the matter over to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

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Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff said the city turned the incident over to MDEQ because of the size of the dump.

&uot;What we want to do is remind everyone that dumps in backyards are illegal,&uot; Huff said.

The City of Natchez has an ordinance in place against illegal dumping and can fine property owners who do not comply, but no citations have been made because MDEQ now has jurisdiction over the case, Huff said.

Aside from being eyesores, dumps can cause drainage problems and damage the underground water supply, Huff said. City officials also want MDEQ to confirm whether the environmental agency has issued a permit for the site.

Chris Sanders, solid waste and mining compliance branch chief for MDEQ, said an inspector has visited the site and his office is still awaiting a report as well as findings on the status of the site.

&uot;It’s safe to say it appears to be (an illegal dump site), but I don’t know for sure,&uot; Sanders said.

The property belongs to Albert Jones, who could not be reached for comment Friday.

Huff could not say who he believes is doing the dumping, but he said he thinks the property owner may be involved.

&uot;I think the property owner has given permission for it to be dumped there,&uot; Huff said.

Meanwhile, Minor just wants someone to clean up the mess.

&uot;Why would you bring trash like that from somebody’s else’s neighborhood and dump it in ours?&uot; she said.

Last Wednesday, Minor called the police after hearing something that turned out to be a bulldozer on the nearby property.

Huff said police told the driver of the bulldozer to stop the work until the MDEQ can finish its investigation.

Huff has his own theory of the purpose of the bulldozer in connection with the debris.

&uot;I think they were trying to spread it out so they could cover it up,&uot; Huff said.

If MDEQ finds someone to be in violation of laws governing waste disposal it can issue penalties depending on such things as the amount of waste, type of waste and financial resources, Sanders said.

&uot;It just depends on the nature of the situation,&uot; he said.

Cited individual can be required to remove the waste, bury the waste and can be fined up to $25,000 per violation per day for failure to comply, Sanders said.