NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. — A hillside in North Versailles has turned into a massive illegal dump.
The code enforcement officer for the township reached out to Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle for help after he captured images of a man in a dump truck allegedly disposing of old roofing shingles.
Earle met with the officer at the site just below Route 30 near an industrial park. It’s a remote wooded area with only a couple of homes nearby. Earle was amazed by the number of shingles over the hillside.
“I always tell people you could shingle your whole neighborhood with what’s dumped over there and they kind of give me that look. I say, ‘If you don’t go see it for yourself, then you’ll never believe me,’” code enforcement officer Merle Pusey said.
Pusey said the township work crews alerted him back in the spring.
“It came to my attention probably about April and our road department noticed the dumping and then I came down and it gradually got worse,” he said.
Pusey set a trap - mounting a trail camera high on a tree overlooking the dumping site.
“I climbed up this old stairwell to get to the highway, and I had to cut some branches away and luckily for us he came at nighttime and he wasn’t able to see it,” he said.
Much to his surprise, the camera captured some good images. Pusey said the dump truck has a very distinct marking that he believes will ultimately help them identify the man. Part of the truck is painted a different color than the rest of it.
“We have the truck pulling in. It’s a unique vehicle. It’s approximately a 1991 to 1997, Ford F350 dump truck. It has a very unique marking here, this quarter panel of a different color can make it very identifiable,” he said.
The trail camera captured several different pictures of a man backing a loaded dump truck up to the edge and then leaving with an empty truck. If you know the driver of the truck, you’re asked to call code enforcement.
“Construction and demolition debris is one of the top items, so to speak, that we find at illegal dump sites. You can see it here. The doors that are back there,” said Myrna Newman, executive director of Allegheny Cleanways.
Channel 11 met Newman at an illegal dumpsite on the border of the city of Pittsburgh and Penn Hills. She said roofing shingles are a big problem.
“Shingles are a nightmare to clean up. They’re really heavy. They last forever or a really long time. They’re extremely difficult and we find that a lot as well,” Newman said.
She said in most cases, it’s the work of unscrupulous contractors attempting to make a buck, or rather save a buck.
“Honestly if they get caught, some of them think that the fine will be less than the cost of dumping,” she said.
Newman said the fine is much more than the cost to get rid of shingles.
Pusey said he considers this an assault on his community, and he’s bound and determined to stop it.
“This is my community. I’m not going to let my community go down. This is something I’m very passionate about. That’s why they gave me this job. It’s not for sale. It’s not going to turn into a dumping ground. It’s going to be nice. We’re going to keep it nice,” said Pusey.
He also lives in North Versailles and worries that this illegal dump could quickly turn into a health and safety hazard.
“If someone forbid throws a cigarette down here, we’re going to have petroleum-based smoke pumping out of the valley,” he said.
“It’s so horrible for the environment. Any kind of dumping that collects water, of course also is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and then think about what it does to community. It brings down property values. It affects the health and safety of residents,” Newman said.
Click here for a full list of Allegheny County dump sites, or check out the map below:
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