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‘We are not your garbage dump here,’ West Side alderman says

A program using cameras to catch fly dumpers was outlined Sunday by (from left) Streets and Sanitation Commissioner
Charles Williams, Ald. Jason Ervin and Public Health Commissioner
Julie Morita. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

Chicago is targeting people who illegally dump tires, construction debris and other waste around the city, using 15 new high-resolution mobile cameras to take them to court.

Last year, it cost the city more than $1.5 million to clean up the waste. Now, the city has spent $6,500 per camera — a total of $97,500 — on cameras that may be used to fine dumpers by as much $5,000 for the first offense.

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said the fines may help pay for the cameras, which he hopes will also deter dumpers all together. So far in 2017, he said, the city has recovered 4,000 truckloads of tires.

The cameras began going up about a month ago. The city has already used them to file two cases in court.

“We are not your sewer,” Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said. “We are not your garbage dump here, on the West Side of Chicago.”

Williams and Department of Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita noted the waste piles can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.

“People are dumping not just tires but trash,” Morita said. “Rodents, pet rats — they grow and they congregate in those areas. It’s the same areas where we have kids and families.”

The new cameras are also meant to complement an ordinance introduced this month by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. If passed, it would significantly increase dumping fines, according to a City Hall press release.