Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program

We partner with local organizations to remove illegally dumped trash from the environment and educate local community residents on the negative environmental and economic impacts of illegal dumping in their communities.


Illegal dumping of waste is a pervasive problem in Pennsylvania. These activities not only negatively impact the environment, but they degrade the character of our neighborhoods and the quality of life of our local residents. Dumpsites know no bounds and include state gamelands, state forests, state parks, waterways of all sizes, private property, and county, and municipal lands.

Illegally dumped trash is a detriment to the water quality of local streams and rivers and can reduce drainage of runoff due to blockage of streams, culverts, and drainage basins and can lead to flooding and channel modification. Economically, property values decrease as a result of illegal dumping which affects the local tax base.

Since the inception of PEC’s Illegal Dumpsite Program in 2007 PEC has cleaned up more than 200 illegal dumpsites in 12 counties, removing over 1,100 tons of trash, over 170 tons of scrap metal and nearly 400 tons of tires from the environment. The program includes both volunteer and contractor cleanups, along with education and outreach. More than 3,600 volunteers have put in more than 17,000 hours cleaning up illegal dumpsites.

In addition to the environmental and economic impacts, illegally dumped trash poses a significant human health risk and has negative impacts on water quality as contaminants run off the sites and/or leach into the groundwater. Included  in the contaminants can be hazardous chemicals generated from household, commercial, and industrial sources that negatively impact drinking water and public health, and threaten aquatic habitat.

The potential for further human health impacts come from several sources. Illegally dumped waste attracts rodents and other animals, which can then spread harmful bacteria.  The discarded tires found in illegal dumpsites pose a significant threat as the water collected in the tires provides an attractive breeding ground for mosquitoes, potentially increasing the threat of West Nile Virus.

The PEC Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program works to combat illegal dumping through a multi-faceted approach. We partner with environmental organizations, schools, businesses local municipalities, and county and state government to remove illegally dumped garbage, trash, and tires from the environment.

The Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program:

  • Is a coalition of committed partners and has expanded through PEC’s efforts to include local watershed organizations, local land trusts, County Conservation Districts, county and local municipal officials, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesPennsylvania American Water Company, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB).
  • Develops additional partnerships with businesses, government, school districts, local community residents, and other non-profit organizations.
  • Identifies illegal dumpsites through personal communication with local municipal officials, County Conservation Districts, and representatives from other non-profit organizations, as well as through Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Illegal Dumpsite Surveys.
  • Analyzes the conditions of the illegal dumpsites to determine if the sites can be cleaned up through volunteer efforts or require a professional contractor.
  • Educates local community residents and school students about the environmental and economic impacts of illegal dumping on their communities and the options for and benefits of recycling.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_cRCgGt5IU

PEC Vice President Janet Sweeney discusses the illegal dumpsite program.

Since the inception of this program in 2007 over PEC has cleaned up over 140 illegal dumpsites in 12 counties, removing over 900 tons of trash, over 100 tons of scrap metal and over 300 tons of tires from the environment.

May 23, 2016

Over 170 Volunteers Help to Remove 91 Tons of Trash in PEC Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanups

Over the course of the spring season, PEC conducted cleanups at 24 illegal dumpsites across three counties to remove over 91 tons of trash.

Potter County Dumpsite Cleanup 2016

Volunteers removed over 1,000 tires (even when it snowed) in various cleanups this spring.

With 20 organizations and seven municipalities partnering with PEC on these cleanups, 11 of the 24 illegal dumpsites were impacting waterways, with trash found in and/or on the shores of a waterway.

A total of 177 volunteers cleaned up 23 of the sites, while one site that was deemed unsafe for volunteers was cleaned up by a contractor hired by PEC. Volunteers worked over 800 hours in various elements from snow, rain, and warm weather to get the job done.

With over 91 tons of trash were removed and taken to landfills, and more than 13 tons of scrap metal and 1,098 tires were recycled as a part of the clean up projects. In-kind donations were received from our partners, Keep America Beautiful and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, while local donations were received from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Keystone Landfill, Herr’s Distributor, Pepsi Bottling Company, and Utz DistributionCenter.

Potter County

PEC’s ongoing partnership with the Potter County Conservation District resulted in the cleanup of ten sites.  As a result, 2.8 tons of trash, 60 pounds of scrap metal, and 141 tires were removed by 41 volunteers working a total of 146 hours.

Volunteers came from the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve, Upper Allegheny Watershed Association, VFW Post 6611, Potter County Conservation District, and Potter County Probation Office and Work Release Program. Participating municipalities included the Coudersport Borough and Oswayo Borough.

Susquehanna County

Eight sites were cleaned up in Susquehanna County as  91 volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 89, Friends of Starrucca Creek, Girl Scout Troop 50215, NEPA Rail-Trail Council, Southwestern Energy Marcellus Volunteer Council, the Armitage Foundation and the Roaring Run Hunting Camp worked 576 hours to clean up seven sites.  One site was determined to be unsuitable for volunteers so PEC hired JS Wright Excavation — through a competitive bid process — to clean up the site.

In total, nearly 84 tons of trash was removed from these eight sites and taken to a landfill, while 11 tons of scrap metal and 810 tires were recycled. Harmony Township, South Gibson Township, and the Susquehanna Depot Borough partnered with PEC on these cleanups by providing various types of support and/or services.

Wayne County

Six sites were cleaned up in Wayne County and each were cleaned up through volunteer efforts. With 45 volunteers logging 160 total hours, nearly five tons of trash was removed and 1.7 tons of scrap metal and 147 tires were recycled.

Participating organizations included the Friends of Starrucca Creek, Bucks Cove Rod & Gun Club, Shady Lane Porch Party Friends, and the Beach Lake Fishing and Hunting Club.  PEC’s partners in the cleanup included Aldenville Log & Lumber, Wayne County Probation Office, Wayne County Work Release, Canaan Township, and Clinton Township.

April 27, 2016

Volunteers Remove Over Five Tons of Trash in Susquehanna County

PEC partnered with The Friends of Starrucca Creek (FSC) and the Rail-Trail Council of Northeast Pennsylvania for a two-day Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup event in Susquehanna County on April 23-24.

Dumpsite Cleanup Susquehanna County (2) April 2016

Volunteers pose for a photo during the weekend’s cleanup efforts.

In the days leading up to the event, Dana Rockwell, PEC’s Advisory Committee Member of Keep Northeastern Pennsylvania Beautiful and FSC, recruited volunteers to walk with canoes along Starrucca Creek pulling debris from its banks.

During the two-day event, volunteers cleaned up six miles of the D&H Rail-Trail from Melrose Road to Thompson Township along the Starrucca Creek from the historical Starrucca Viaduct (built in 1848) down to the junction of the Susquehanna River. Volunteers also cleaned up an area from Melrose Road Harmony Township to Starrucca Creek Road Thompson Township and picked up the debris along Starrucca Creek that was gathered prior to the event.

Volunteers, including members of the Friends of Starrucca Creek, NEPA Rail-Trail Council, Boy Scout Troop 89, Girl Scout Troop, The Armitage Foundation, the Roaring Run Hunting Camp, and family and friends gathered at the Melrose Rail-Trail each morning at 8 a.m. for registration, refreshments, and instructions.

In total, 59 volunteers, (21 were under 18 years old) worked 450 hours, removed 5.77 tons of trash, and recycled 1.50 tons of metal and 361 tires.  The group of volunteers came prepared, bringing their trucks and ATV’s bringing with them to pull out tires, fences, appliances, and any other large item within the creek and along the trails.

In PEC’s fifth year of partnering with FSC, one of the major goals is to remove all debris from the 14-mile Starrucca Creek. Nine miles have been cleaned to date.

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