Spotting illegal dump sites from the sky in Region 8

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Old appliances, construction waste, and tires are all things found
illegally dumped.  

"We were looking for any type of dump site," said Major John Brandon with the Civil Air Patrol.

Major John Brandon along with several other pilots volunteered their time to help crackdown and clean up the county.

"We can locate exactly where the dump sites are," said George Johnson with Craighead County's Department of Environmental Services.

The county has received this type of assistance from the Civil Air Patrol for many years.  This is the first time in the past five years this type of air patrol has been done by the group for the county.

Pilots flew a grid of one mile blocks across the county with three people on board searching the ground.  They flew at 1,000 feet above ground level so they could see what they were looking for and get the photographs the needed.  The images they are providing to the county not only let officials know the illegal dump sites are out there, they also let officials know where to find them.

When they fly over the site, the Civil Air Patrol also records the GPS coordinates of the location so the county team can find it later from the ground.

"We found actually less this time than we found last time we flew," said Brandon.

"Over the western end and the eastern end we virtually don't have any illegal dump sites at all.  We do have a problem right up and down Crowley's Ridge," said Johnson.

Another big problem is in the five mile radius around the city of Jonesboro. 

"A lot of times they don't know that someone's been dumping illegal on them so they're really proactive about getting their property cleaned up," said Johnson.

Johnson said he's actually proud of the number of sites they've found!

"I know we found 18 but five years ago we would have found 40," said Johnson.

The county will spend the next several days visiting some of the sites labeled as illegal dumping grounds.  They will be able to not only see the location first hand but inform the landowner about what they've found and tell that individual they have to clean it up or face a penalty.  If the site is not cleaned up, the penalty for having an illegal dump site is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.

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