Good RID-dance

Illinois program cleans up 130 illegal dump sites.

After one year, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cleaned up more than 130 illegal dump sites through its Illinois Removes Illegal Dumps (I-RID) program. I-RID has removed approximately 22,000 tons of illegally dumped waste in the state, as well as recycled 445 tons of metal and 275 tons of tires since the program began in September 2006.

“We do a wide range of cleanups,” says Alan Justice, I-RID program manager. “Sometimes they last a day, and sometimes they last a month if we're handling hundreds of tons of materials.”

The program was passed into state law in 2005. Since then, the Illinois EPA has worked with local and county governments, as well as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, to remove a variety of waste and junk from rural and urban areas in the state. As part of the program, the Illinois EPA Bureau of Land divided the state into seven sections. I-RID appointed an inspector to each section to spot illegal sites and hired five contractors throughout the state to handle the cleanups.

Justice says the program receives its funding — $2.6 million for last year's cleanups — from the landfill tipping fees. One of the program's biggest concerns are illegal and unmanaged tire dumps, says Justice, who once worked for a used tire recovery program in connection with the Illinois EPA. Tires are banned from landfills, and when they pile up, they can lead to hard-to-manage fires and mosquitoes, which are yet another danger of such tire dumps. Tires in dumps can accumulate stagnant water, which can attract mosquitoes such as the Northern House mosquito, which is the primary carrier of the West Nile virus. “They can become breeding grounds,” Justice says.