Environmental Protection

Illegal Dumping Caught by Surveillance Cameras in Massachusetts

The installation of hidden cameras by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) captured several perpetrators in the act of illegal dumping in high-risk areas.

Like any other urban municipalities, Lawrence Massachusetts has struggled with illegal dumping that result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer cleanup costs at public sites, but the City of Lawrence sought out to fix the problem. In a combined effort with MassDEP and Lawrence Inspectional Services, small battery-operated hidden cameras were installed in high-risk locations. These cameras are triggered by motion sensors and are equipped with license plate reading technology, which helps increase the rate of identification of the perpetrators at night. As a direct result of the installation of these cameras, multiple dumpers have been identified and fined and/or brought back to clean up their mess.

After installing cameras at various other sites, multiple scofflaws have been caught on camera dumping construction debris, appliances, furniture, tires, and other miscellaneous garbage. The City of Lawrence intends to keep hidden cameras in all of these sites on order to keep illegal dumping to a minimum. Dumping at these public locations leads to increasing the city's disposal costs, and diverts public work crews from important jobs on roads, sewers, and water lines, just to cleanup this debris.

Since the first installation of cameras, more than a dozen incidents of dumping have been captured by the cameras, with nine of the dumpers identified thus far. The dumpers were issued a minimum of a $300 citation by the City of Lawrence. The waste that was dumped could, in many cases, have been disposed of for free by simply contacting the Lawrence Department of Public Works or by obtaining a bulk item sticker for a nominal fee. Lawrence is in the process of upgrading its dumping bylaw and is upgrading its own camera program to catch future dumpers.

Municipalities that they think might be a good candidate for the “Candid Camera” program, please contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force at 617-556-1000.

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