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Are Kingsport residents outsourcing their trash?

Editorial Board • Jun 19, 2017 at 2:31 PM

It may be just a coincidence that with Kingsport’s higher monthly trash pickup costs, Scott County is seeing an increase in illegal dumping by Tennessee residents. And it’s costing county taxpayers more than $5,000 annually.

As Scott supervisors work through options to curtail the illegal dumping, they might turn to the state for stiff fines for non-residents coming into Virginia to dump trash.

Scott County has 16 trash disposal sites — all open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — for the convenience of county residents. The county picks up trash left at the sites and pays $27 a ton to dispose of it in a landfill. Compared to May of last year, the county has picked up an additional 192 tons of trash this year. That’s more than $5,000 that the county hadn’t planned on in what is already a very tight operating budget.

So where’s all this additional trash coming from? Supervisor Darrel Jeter said he was told of truckloads of trash coming from Tennessee.

The consensus is that the dumping is taking place in the evening, which has prompted a discussion among supervisors about closing the disposal sites either during evenings or certain days of the week. One supervisor suggested closing only sites close to the Tennessee line.

Supervisors are expected to make some decisions by the July meeting. They know closing some or all sites during particular hours will be an inconvenience for county residents and are open to other solutions.

But the problem shouldn’t exist. Tennessee residents shouldn’t be exporting their trash to another locality, much less another state, and doing so could result in a charge of littering, punishable in Virginia by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. That’s not certain because the statute applies to disposing of trash, garbage or other refuse on public property or private property without written consent.

And that’s not what’s happening. The trash is being dumped in sites created for that purpose, but by persons who do not live in Scott County, and whether that’s illegal might be a matter of opinion.

The state can fix that by making it a crime for persons to dump trash in another jurisdiction, or, if they’re from another jurisdiction.

The same fine could apply, which would make it profitable for counties like Scott to go through such trash and try to identify who disposed of it. Folks tend to throw mail, magazines and other materials with identifying information in their trash.

Better to bring trash to a site created for that purpose than to toss it into a wooded area or waterway. But better still to dispose of your trash where you live.

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