Smile, You’re On Litter Cam
As two West Virginia residents tossed out trash along Mystery Mountain in Mingo County, they had no idea they were starring on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s hidden litter cam.
The tape from that day in October led to the arrest of James Pack and Phyllis Whitt for littering. They were taken into custody and released on $1,000 bond. A hearing was set for January in magistrate court, where they entered into a plea bargain with Assistant Prosecutor Chris Younger.
Pack was fined $100 plus all court costs. Charges were dropped against Whitt after she agreed to help Pack clean up the entire open dump site.
“Once they viewed 10 seconds of the footage with the license plate in clear view and clear images of them tossing trash into the dump, Mr. Pack wanted to plead guilty as quickly as possible,” said Sam Stalnaker of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Pollution Prevention and Open Dump program.
The tape shows Pack and Whitt pulling their vehicle alongside the illegal open dump on a county road. They both unloaded the contents of the vehicle into the dump. “There was a full six minutes worth of dumping on that tape,” Stalnaker said.
The Pollution Prevention and Open Dump program has boosted its enforcement success rate with a fleet of hidden cameras. The DEP works with a contractor who hides wireless cameras in every district in West Virginia. The cameras are equipped with low-light capabilities and night vision. Movement triggers them to run. From the video, officers can get good identifications, license plate numbers and the make of cars, and that is how they nabbed Peck and Whitt.
To fulfill their plea bargain, the couple removed 1,700 pounds of solid waste from the Mystery Mountain dump site and properly disposed of it at Waste Management’s transfer station facility at Peck’s Mill in Logan County.
After cleaning the dump, the couple returned to magistrate court to report back to the DEP. Enforcement inspectors Tom Ferguson and Tim Justice agreed that their debt was paid in sweat equity.
“That’s a lot more than they dumped out of the back of a Jeep Cherokee, but they should consider themselves lucky,” Stalnaker said. “As a side note, they’ve also signed up for residential garbage pickup.”
To report an open dump site or to inquire about a cleanup, call the Pollution Prevention and Open Dump program at: 304-558 7763.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.