Allegheny CleanWays’ DumpBusters crew, along with the Hazelwood Initiative Blight Task Force, has removed more than 97,600 pounds of debris from the Hazelwood Greenway and neighborhood since January 1, 2015. This work is part of a larger effort to clean up illegal dump sites and promote policy change for urban revitalization in Pittsburgh that was funded by the Heinz Endowments. The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.
Illegal dumping is not only an environmental issue – it also affects economic development, public health and safety, and the self-esteem of the community and its residents. Tera McIntosh, Director of Community Engagement at Hazelwood Initiative, agrees. “Illegal dumping risks human health and well-being, contaminates landscapes and waterways, poisons plants and wildlife, destroys habitats, poses safety risk, and pollutes our many public spaces. The efforts of Allegheny CleanWays’ DumpBusters and the Blight Task Force have reduced illegal dumping in Hazelwood drastically and their efforts have reduced costs to individuals, communities, and our government.”
DumpBusters is a year-round program of Allegheny CleanWays aimed at eliminating illegal dumping in Allegheny County. A DumpBusters crew is a small group of specially-trained volunteers (anywhere from 1-8 people) led by DumpBusters Director, Joe Divack. Since the program began in 2010, the DumpBusters program has removed over 1,506,500 pounds of illegally dumped debris (including 9,948 tires) from the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.
Joe Divack, DumpBusters Director, is excited about the progress made in Hazelwood. “It has been a pleasure to work so closely with the Hazelwood community in this unique project to remediate illegal dumping from long-neglected land. Community members have been exceptionally hard-working and devoted, and we are all pleased with the results so far. There’s more to be done, but we know that we’re up to the task”
Dee Schreider, life-long Hazelwood resident and leader of the Blight Task Force, sees the elimination of illegal dumping in the neighborhood as a step toward a brighter future. “Hazelwood Blight Task Force along with great support of DumpBusters have helped the rhythm of Hazelwood. People of Hazelwood are fighters, survivors and sharers. I see a new beginning again.”
Hazelwood will continue to be one of Allegheny CleanWays’ neighborhoods of focus through December 2015.
General information –
Allegheny CleanWays is an affiliate of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and has been working to eliminate litter and illegal dumping in Allegheny County since 2000. Allegheny Cleanways has three main cleanup programs: DumpBusters (described above), The Tireless Project (a 12 year-old, collaborative waterways cleanup program) and Standalone/Large Event Cleanups (periodic events held throughout the spring, summer, and fall in which a large group of volunteers is used to clean up large dump sites). Allegheny CleanWays also provides training and supplies to community groups or individuals who want to address litter or illegal dumping in their neighborhoods and annually educates more than 1,000 individuals about the economic, social, and environmental effects of littering and dumping. In addition, Allegheny CleanWays is working to prevent repeat dumping by engaging volunteers in adopting green spaces or roadways to help keep them clean and unattractive to dumpers. Work on improving enforcement of current litter and dumping laws is also being done in collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh and other local municipalities.