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Illegal dumping is expensive problem in City of Birmingham

Since the D.U.M.M.Y campaign launched in January 2020, the City has cleared hundreds of dump sites
Putting a price tag on Birmingham's illegal dumping problem
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 2:42 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The City of Birmingham has a million dollar illegal dumping problem, and that’s just the cost in overtime pay.

“There are hundreds of illegal dump sites all across the city and we work each and every day with our Department of Public Works to get them addressed,” said Alicia Lumpkin, Director, Process Improvement, City of Birmingham. “As you can imagine, that’s a heavy lift in addition to what they currently have going on. That’s hundreds, and hundreds of sites.”

One of those sites was in Beverly Ward’s Kingston neighborhood. She could smell the trash before she could see the pile.

“Every time the wind blows, you can smell it. Every time a car passes by, you can smell it. It smells like something is dead in that trash,” said Ward.

The dump site started with just a few trash bags, but within a month grew to a massive pile of mattresses, lumber, household waste and whatever else people felt like tossing.

“See how bad its accumulated over here now? And it gets higher and higher because people use it as a dump site. I don’t care how many pass by, people pass by and they throw more and more over,” said Ward, frustrated with the site, and especially, the smell.

“The City really remains committed to addressing illegal dumping issues,” said Lumpkin.

Lumpkin’s office oversees the D.U.M.M.Y. Campaign, which launched two years ago to combat illegal dumping.

“No D.U.M.M.Y. It’s ‘dumping ugly mess in my yard.’ And we want people to recognize that this is not OK, and when you see it, let us know,” explained Lumpkin.

In the past two years, Lumpkin said the City’s Public Works Department has cleared hundreds of sites, racking up one million dollars in overtime pay.

“It definitely takes up some of our time to be able to address these issues,” said Lumpkin.

How much time it takes to clean the sites depends on the site, she explained.

Ward called 311 in early October. The site was cleaned up in early November. Lumpkin said other sites have been cleaned up less than a week after getting a report through 311.

“Each incident stands on its own merit so I cannot give you an exact time because each incident depends on the circumstances surrounding the site.”

The City has installed signs to try to deter offenders and security cameras to catch them. It is also asking people to report illegal dumpers, listing steps to its website including getting car tag numbers and reporting them to the magistrate’s office.

WBRC Fox6 asked the City to share how many people have been cited for illegal dumping since this campaign began, but it has not provided that information.

“Enforcement is just part of this program,” said Lumpkin. She said educating people about the problem, and what to do when they see an illegal dump site, will help solve this issue.

“It’s making sure the people who live here, work here, know how to properly dispose of their trash.”

There are four dumpsters in the City for people to take their trash: 310 96th Street North, 1044 Avenue W, 2413 27th Street North and 501 6th Avenue South. These sites are open every day but hours vary.


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