Local and state organizations involved in identifying Blair County's 116 illegal dump sites are calling for volunteers and donations to clear away the eyesores posing health, safety and environmental risks.
Cleanups are expensive, but some help is available, said Susan Urchek, program specialist with PA CleanWays - Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, the organization that surveyed Blair County and identified the sites.
She and representatives from the Blair County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling and the state Department of Environmental Protection gathered Thursday at an illegal dump site along McMahon Road in Logan Township to announce results of a fall survey and to suggest how to address the problem.
PA CleanWays, which has a chapter in Blair County, remains available to assist with cleanups but is always in need of volunteers and donations to help cover expenses, Blair County Director of Solid Waste Terry Stacey said.
He said he's working on an effort to set up a tire recycling collection in the fall. Blair County's survey showed that in 84 percent of the 116 illegal dump sites, there were 2,100 tires.
"I'd like to do it in late September or early October and as a bit of a fund-raiser for PA CleanWays, so they have some money to put toward spring cleanups," Stacey said.
Blair County's illegal dump sites also contained recyclable materials, bagged trash, household trash and construction and demolition waste.
Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority said the survey results were not a surprise.
"I am disappointed, however, that people choose to pull up to the side of the road and drop off this kind of stuff," Gority said.
Blair County's survey showed the greatest number of dump sites in Woodbury, Logan, Greenfield, Frankstown and Antis townships. It also identified five illegal dump sites in Altoona: in Mill Run near the 31st Street culvert and on Hilltop Circle, North 10th Street, North 13th Street and Oak Avenue.
John Frederick, executive director of the Intermunicipal Relations Committee which is working to improve recycling in Altoona, Logan Township, Hollidaysburg and Tyrone, said mediocre trash and recycling collection efforts are contributing to the creation of dump sites.
The IRC will distribute large recycling bins to Altoona, Logan Township and Hollidaysburg Borough residents from noon to 7 p.m. today at the Blair County Ballpark.
Stacey said his office can help people find some options for hard-to-dispose items that do not need to be dumped. For instance, Skills of Central Pennsylvania Inc. has started taking old computers and keyboards at no charge.
Another effort to discourage dumping is to ask retailers to take old items when buying new.
"The more the public demands that, the more it's likely to happen," Frederick said.
PA CleanWays has surveyed about two-thirds of the state's 67 counties and plans to survey all. In counties neighboring Blair, the survey found 203 illegal dump sites in Cambria County, 202 in Huntingdon County and 112 in Clearfield County.