Appliances. A camper shell. Tires. A sofa. You name it and there's a good chance it's been illegally dumped in the ditch at 2400 McArtor Road. And according to Southwest District Environmental Administrator for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Erich Glave, the dumping has been going on for almost a decade.
The landowner who's property line meets the dump site contacted the KDHE for assistance prompting the department to set up a camera at the location this fall. In the four month period the camera was hidden at the dump site, Glave said one person was caught "red-handed" adding something to the pile of debris. A few other individuals were recorded as well, but the camera wasn't able to get a good shot of them.
It is unclear whether or not charges will be filed against the individuals caught on tape. Illegal dumping fines can be as high as $25,000.
In past years, the location was used for recycling, Glave said, but it hasn't been that way for a while. And although the reason McArtor has become a magnet for junk is hard to pinpoint, he said people likely see it as and easy place to dump illegally.
"Its really just a back your truck up and leave it situation," Glave explained. "I think people just saw junk there and thought that's where it goes."
Ford County Planning, Zoning and Environmental Health Director Mark Shriwise agreed with Glave's speculation and referenced the recycling plant that used to exist at the location. He said none of the items abandoned outside the gate could've been recycled; it all should've been taken to the landfill.
"Any place that's not the landfill is the wrong place to dump that stuff," Glave said.
Luckily, the KDHE has a program that helps cities and counties pay for the cost of cleaning up illegal dumps around the state. The Kansas Illegal Dump Program has been around for nearly a decade and pays 75 percent of the cleanup costs, up to $10,000. Complaints must come directly from a city or county, though. There is also an option for Local residents who feel they have been unable to get help cleaning up a dump site; links to report an illegal dump site as well as information on illegal dump cleanup are available on the KDHE website.
Shriwise estimated the cost to clean up the McArtor dump site to be as high as $3,000. He said the county had consistently had to clean up at least one illegal dump site of varying size a year. In fact, there's already another site on the county's list that needs to be dealt with.
Bill Bider, director of KDHE's Bureau of Waste Management, said the Illegal Dump Program works to cleanup anywhere from 20 to 50 sites a year. And Ford County tends to add more dumps to that number than most counties, he said. The same is true of Finney County.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's really a population thing," Bider said.
He added that illegal dumps have been found scattered across southwest Kansas, but KDHE can only clean them up if there is an immanent threat to state law, resident health, or the environment. And while he wasn't sure what threat was posed by the dump on McArtor, he said it may have been considered a threat to safety or a fire threat.
Bider echoed Glave's assertion and said dump sites often accumulate through mimicking behavior and has become commonplace in some parts of the state.
"It's an inappropriate way to manage waste," he said. "You've really got to clean it up when it's small."
In each case KDHE deals with, the goal is to find the responsible party, Bider said.
The right way
The Ford County Landfill is located at 10348 110 Road in Dodge City and is open from 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
In order to avoid a double tipping fee, all loads taken to the landfill must be separated as follows: metal, construction demo, trees and brush, municipal solid waste). All loads must also be tied, tarped or bound. Grass must be unbagged or a tipping fee charge will be applied. The Ford County Landfill does not accept burned trash, household hazardous waste, dead animals or tires on wheels. Special waste must have prior disposal approval.