Roadside dumpsites still a problem in Carter County

Published 12:09 am Saturday, April 25, 2015

Contributed Photo/Carter County Sheriff's Department Inmate work crews recently removed more than 260 tires from an illegal dumpsite along Dennis Cover Road.

Contributed Photo/Carter County Sheriff’s Department
Inmate work crews recently removed more than 260 tires from an illegal dumpsite along Dennis Cover Road.

Despite laws making it a crime to discard trash and household items on public lands or right of ways, roadside dump sites are still a problem in Carter County.

“It’s pretty consistent that we have several areas I consider hot spots,” said Carter County Sheriff’s Department Officer Jason Blankenship, who works with the department’s litter program. “Every area of the county has its spots where people tend to do the illegal dumping.”

While illegal dump sites are a county-wide problem, Blankenship said it tends to be worse in the more rural areas of the county.

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A wide variety of items can be found discarded along the roadways — household garbage, old appliances, furniture, mattresses and tires — lots and lots of tires.

“The tires are one of the biggest things,” Blankenship said. “Tires are hard to dispose of and you have to pay for them at the landfill.”

In March, Blankenship took an inmate work crew from the Carter County Detention Center to clean up two dump sites along Dennis Cove Road. Located near each other, both were filled with old tires, Blankenship said.

“We pulled 263 tires out of those dump sites,” he said, adding he and the inmate work crew spent about 10 hours cleaning up. At both sites, the side walls had been cut out of all the tires, Blankenship said.

The area around Dennis Cove Road is one of the places Blankenship considers a “hot spot” for dumping. Other roads with such problems are Nanny Goat Hill, Old Railroad Grade Road and Stout Hollow Road, he said.

Tennessee state law makes it a crime to dump trash and other household items on public lands. Under the provisions of the law, the seriousness of the offense is determined by the types of items discarded as well as how much is dumped. The law also requires that items being hauled in the bed of a pickup truck be secured and covered with a tarp to keep the items from flying out.

Fines under the law range from a $50 ticket up to $3,000 and some levels of littering offenses even carry jail time, up to six years for a second offense of commercially dumped litter.

The Sheriff’s Department is hoping to use the state’s litter laws to combat the problem, Blankenship said.

“Something we’ve started doing lately is formal incidents on these sites like this,” he said.

Officers investigate the scene to try to find any evidence or indicators of who may be responsible.

“We haven’t made any prosecutions yet,” he said.

Anyone who knows of an illegal dump site in the county or has information regarding individuals dumping trash and other items onto public lands or right of ways is asked to contact the Carter County Sheriff’s Department at 423-542-1845.