PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto launched the first step of his plan to clean up the city Thursday following a nonprofit group’s identification of 529 illegal dump sites in Pittsburgh.
Allegheny Cleanways, which clears illegal dump sites throughout the city, said the number of illegal dump sites is 250 more than there were six years ago.
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The nonprofit’s anti-illegal dumping program has had some success in Hazelwood, having cleared about 48 illegal dump sites since January, executive director Myrna Newman told Channel 11’s news partners at TribLIVE.
However, some still remain as Target 11’s Rick Earle discovered Thursday, finding piles of garbage in a wooded area of the neighborhood next to a no dumping sign.
“Pittsburgh is beautiful. As you come through the tunnels, it lights up. Then when you look really close, there's a mess. There's litter all over,” Peduto said.
In an effort to clean up the city, the mayor convened a special roundtable meeting Thursday morning, bringing together state and local agencies that all have the same goal.
“I think that this just shows the interest of the mayor's office in the issues of litter and illegal dumping, and it's important to them and it's important to the constituents,” said Sarah Shea, with the Clean Pittsburgh Commission.
Experts said the key to solving the litter issue is prevention and enforcement.
City officials said they have started using cameras to catch people in the act and going through bags of trashed at the illegal dump sites in order to track down perpetrators.
“Seeing like a piece of mail, and then I go back and research and find a contact and I call and question,” Pittsburgh Anti-Litter Coordinator Melissa Rosenfeld said.
Peduto promised to have a new aggressive plan in place by Labor Day to combat the problem and said he’s very optimistic.
“Pittsburghers have a lot of pride in the city. They want to show it off in a way we know it can look. There are a handful of people that hold us back. We've got to make sure we are not just picking up after them. We are going after them, too,” he said.