Man takes action against dumping ground

September 1, 2009 8:19:29 AM PDT
A man is fed up that someone is using a street in southeast Houston as a dumping ground, leaving behind all kinds of junk. And we've learned the site on East Orem isn't the only area where people are dumping trash. In a sparsely populated area of southeast Houston underneath an overpass not far from Hobby Airport lies a dirty little secret that has Randy Johnson fighting mad.

"You know, it's just junk and we can't get rid of it," he said.

Johnson, who works at nearby AlTec Industries, was so disgusted by what he saw that he documented the problem by snapping photos of the loads of junk people had dumped there.

"Mattresses, tires, baby clothes, strollers, car parts," said Johnson.

At one point, there was so much trash it was blocking the road. What's more, Johnson, who started calling the city's 311 hotline back in June, says it took four calls over a six-week period just to get some results.

"Until I spoke to the supervisor and emailed her pictures of the debris, then it became an issue," said Johnson.

We started asking questions about why it took so long and found it takes more than just a call to 311. That's because police consider them crime scenes, cases that are looked into by a branch of HPD's major offenders division called the Environmental Investigations Unit.

An investigator with whom we spoke told us, "It's a big issue and we're extremely busy. We do put a lot of people in jail for this. In addition to sting operations, we have camera systems we put out across the city."

Less than 24 hours after solid waste crews removed the trash that had been there for months, there was a fresh pile, which they promptly picked up Monday morning as we were doing our interview.

"In two months, it'll be blocking the road if nothing is done," Johnson said.

Violators who are caught could face anywhere from a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail to up to a $10,000 fine and two years in jail. It all depends on the weight.

HPD's environmental investigations unit has a 24-hour hotline you can use to report illegal dumping sites. That number is 713-525-2728.

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