Boston recently increased fines for serious illegal dumping and is looking at expanding its network of cameras to catch people dumping everything from bags of trash to construction debris in 43 "hot spots" around the city.
Illegal dumpers are now liable for fines up to $15,000, depending on the severity of the incident, according to Leo Bulger of the Inspectional Services Department.
"We're going to catch you and we're going to prosecute you," Councilor Sal LaMattina (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) vowed at a hearing today.
The city currently has three cameras fixed at unidentified trouble spots and one mobile unit to catch dumpers. One reason for today's hearing, called by Councilor Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), was to meet with vendors of surveillance cameras - which can go for up to $6,000 - and software to monitor the cameras and set off alerts when they detect suspicious activity. Vendors pushed systems that would expand beyond illegal dumping and graffiti to citywide monitoring for all sorts of illegal activities.
Consalvo and Councilor Felix Arroyo (at large) said they are tired of suburbanites too cheap to pay their town's trash-removal fees using Boston as their personal dump. "It happens right near my house," Consalvo said. "It's just not fair." LaMattina said it's particularly annoying that much of the dumping seems to be by former residents who know just where to dump stuff.
Bulger said that even aside from the fairness issue, illegal dumping means his workers get pulled off other tasks - such as building inspections - when forced to dig through trash to try to find evidence of who dumped stuff.
Deputy DPW Commissioner Elmo Baldassari said the cameras have already helped, in part because sometimes the dumpers are particularly stupid. He said employees of one landscaper were captured on camera dumping stuff while wearing company T-shirts with their phone number on them.
Baldassari said that since July 1, his department has responded to 530 cases of illegal dumping - and 917 cases of graffiti.