Illegal Dumping: How Lowcountry litterers may face jail time

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — After two years living in her James Island neighborhood, Elizabeth Baker is fed up with the trash piling up at the community’s entrance.

“There would just be piles of you name it–washers, dryers, couches, mattresses,” Baker said. “I began to believe it was just a public dump site, but it didn’t make sense to me because there was no signage.”

The make-shift dump site is right in front of a Charleston Public Works Pump Station. Charleston Water Systems owns part of that land.

Crews need the space free of debris to access the station.

“Especially in case of an emergency, it would be nice to be able to get in and not walk over trash,” said Mike Saia with Charleston Water Systems.

CPW crews put up “No Dumping” signs at the site to warn trespassers. The site remained clear until last week; a pile of trash appeared again.

“The creek is right here, so when people are dumping this stuff, it’s getting into our waterway, so it’s also an environmental issue,” Baker said.

That environmental issue also extends into the Francis Marion National Forest.

Around the holidays, Boggy Head Rifle Range in the forest was closed due to widespread debris.

“People bring things in for targets such as TV’s, dishwashers, and they leave it,” said Rhea Whalen, District Ranger with the US Forest Service.

The Francis Marion Forest is a “pack it in, pack it out” site. That means whatever visitors bring into the forest must also leave with it.

There are other sites around the forest that look more like a dump. Dozens of tires, bottles, wrappers, furniture, and more sit in pockets near the road.

“It’s hazardous to the public,” said Whalen.

“There can be hazardous materials, gasoline, paint solvent, chemicals, and things like that,” she said.

Forest Service Law Enforcement has put up cameras in parts of the forest to catch the dumpers.

The consequences of illegal dumping in the forest can be fines up to $5,000 and 6 months in prison. In some cases, it could be considered a felony.

State consequences are fines between $200 and $2,000.

For more about littering consequences, click here.

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