The city of Richmond is cracking down on an unsightly and dangerous problem as it faces a 60 percent jump in illegal dumping.
The city says it has uncovered more than a dozen illegal dumping sites that are becoming a huge cost to the environment and neighborhoods.
"What we’ve uncovered is a crisis," said Tim Higares, the head of Richmond Code Enforcement. "This is a huge problem for the city that’s affecting not just the neighborhoods but the quality of life of our residents."
A new city and county task force has uncovered what they believe is behind the sea of garbage: more than a dozen illegal dumping operations.
It's also affecting local businesses.
"Sometimes I’ve got legitimate customers coming to my place of business, and it’s not nice for them to pull up and see garbage," business owner Bill Cygan said.
The task force released photos of some of the sites it has identified. Investigators believe the illegal operations are luring customers with dumping discounts.
"They are accepting waste, junk, trash, hazardous materials at sites not approved to do so," said Nicole Abetkov, spokeswoman for the Richmond Police Department. "The items dumped can end up in waterways, in the Bay because of runoff."
The task force says it believes much of the garbage the dump sites are accepting is ending up in the streets of Richmond.
"The illegal transfer sites, the illegal hauling all translates to more debris on our streets," Higares said. "Those who live and work in the city say they’re tired of the blight and glad the city’s tackling the problem."