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Illegal trash dumping is a growing problem in Atlanta

Residents said the problem is causing sanitation issues and attracting rats and coyotes.

ATLANTA — Trash is being dumped illegally in Atlanta neighborhoods, attracting rats and coyotes and raising concerns about sanitation and diseases. Residents said their call on the city government to solve the problem has gone unanswered.

"People just drive through and throw it out," John Howard said, who lives on Sewanee Avenue in northwest Atlanta, and added, "It's just going all the way down the block."

If trash is dumped in a resident's neighborhood, city protocol states to file a ticket either online or over the phone with Atlanta 311. The city is then supposed to send someone out to collect the trash - but some citizens say that's not happening.

Howard and his neighbors said they've filled multiple requests with 311 over the past several months only to have the ticket closed out with no resolution in a few days.

“I have a 3-year-old, across from me they have children," Howard said. "Didn't expect to have to deal with garbage, rats, coyotes.”

11Alive requested the city records, and so far, in 2022, over 50 people had tickets, with 311 closed prematurely with no solution. There were 143 addresses with more than one report for the same issue - trash sitting, stewing in Georgia's hot sun. 

Logging on to the site and putting a ticket, this was something that's supposed to be taken care of right away, not just let piled up like it is now,” Howard said. 

When asked about the seemingly prematurely closed cases, a spokesperson with public works said:

“The Department of Public Works Office of Solid Waste Services routinely sends crews to remove debris from illegal dumping sites and has worked with APD Code Enforcement to further inspect areas where illegal dumping occurred at privately-owned areas. In many instances, solid waste crews cleared debris from the reported neighborhoods, and unlawful dumping occurred shortly after the work was completed. 

The Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Team (SWEET) also closed some of the reported cases after their inspections found debris located on private property and removal was the responsibility of the homeowner or that the incorrect address or location was listed in the complaint. In addition, Public Works recently purchased mobile surveillance cameras that have been deployed in various areas of the city to help deter violators.”

The spokesperson added that the department is working to manufacture as many cameras as possible quickly.

"Due to the limited availability of cameras, Public Works’ strategy is to deploy the cameras where we experience high volumes of illegal dumping activity," the spokesperson said. "We will be able to respond to requests for camera installations as we introduce additional cameras into the inventory."

Howard, whose street had filed more than 30 separate 311 complaints about trash this year, hopes his street might be eligible for camera installation soon.

“Neighborhoods that do have them, cameras, you don't see anything like this," he said. "It’s just frustrating. Very.”

Shortly after interviewing Howard and alerting public works of the issue on Sewanee Avenue, the trash was removed. 

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