by Jonathan Weaver
A Philadelphia-based apparel distributing company helped the community thousands of tires and household trash at an illegal dumping site in Valley Township this past weekend.
United by Blue identified a tributary near Adams Road plagued by illegal dumping for more than a decade and stepped in.
Director of Waterway Cleanups Kelly Offner said more than a dozen volunteers total helped clean up materials from 9AM-4PM both Friday and Saturday, both by hand and through machines donated by groups such as Rosebud Mining, PJ Greco, Bradigans, Inc. and McLaughlin Family Enterprises.
It was the distributor’s first clean-up in Armstrong County.
“We heard about this site through the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful illegal dumpsite reports. They did surveys for the entire state and this was on their list,” Offner said. “I drove out and took a look at it, saw that it was still active, did a lot of work to find out who the landowner was.
“It took a little bit of digging with the township, but everyone pretty much knew whose it was once I started asking. Most clean-ups like this with a large amount of trash in one area are usually in rural parts of the state.”
According to PA Cleanways’ 2009 Final Report, the Adams Road site once had 25 tons of illegal dumping material – ranked as the second-largest site in the county (only behind a 40-site along Climax Road in Mahoning Township). Most of the Valley Township trash was deemed to be tires.
This past weekend, Offner was joined by her newly-hired Cleanup Operations Assistant Cara Hertneky.
In the past six years, United by Blue has cleaned up areas in 26 states and Canada.
“These kind of sites still exist all over the U.S. Tire piles are a big issue the (Department of Environmental Protection) has been chasing, so we don’t expect to run out of work, I don’t think,” Offner said.
Before cleanup resumed Saturday, Offner estimated volunteers already picked up 3,600 tires – which will be shipped to a recycling center near Harrisburg to be repurposed.
This past weekend’s clean-up was the last of 2016. Cleanups will resume in March. United by Blue coordinated more than 20 cleanups in six states this year.
According to PA Cleanways 2009 Final Report, Armstrong County contained 176 dumpsites, with nearly an estimated 585 tons of trash. At the time, two dozen municipalities had illegal dumping activity.