“If there's something strange in your neighborhood,
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
If there's something weird and it don't look good,
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
Fall is here and Halloween is approaching quickly, but ghosts aren’t the problem here at Cuyahoga SWCD… pollution is!
Throughout many of our blogs posted here, we’ve pointed out plenty of options for how you can minimize your carbon footprint and even improve the natural resources we have, like the water quality of Lake Erie. There are some things, though, that require some additional help. Some examples could include disposing of household hazardous wastes, cleaning up hazardous spills, reporting a broken gas line, or getting rid of scrap tires. Luckily, we have a few very involved organizations in the area that can help with most of those problems or even prevent them!
Environmental Emergencies- Although it is less common, the severity of an environmental emergency makes it a good topic to discuss. First of all, what is an environmental emergency? The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines it as a release of any material that impacts the health of the environment. For Northeast Ohio, the most common forms of emergencies are petroleum or chemical spills, dumping of toxic waste, or groundwater pollution. So who you gonna call? Ohio EPA! Their Emergency hotline number for Cuyahoga County is (800)282-9378 or (614)224-0946. Because it is an emergency, it is important to know as much information as possible when you call, like who is responsible, where and when it occurred, the type and amount of the hazard, or any additional details.
Non-Emergency Complaints– The Ohio EPA also has a hotline available for non-emergency situations that is accessible during normal business hours. This number can be used to report a problem involving solid waste, air pollution, hazardous waste, or drinking water/ground water. To report a non-emergency complaint, call (800)686-6330.
Additional contact information for Ohio EPA in Cuyahoga County can be found here.
Household Hazardous Waste– There are many household products that should not be thrown out with your normal trash. These materials can generally be categorized as dangerous, caustic, or flammable. Examples of these materials include automotive fluids, adhesives, fluorescent bulbs or other mercury products, paint thinners, pool chemicals, smoke detectors, tires, some types of batteries, and many other products. For proper disposal of these products, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District created a disposal program that has been in effect since 1996. Use the Cuyahoga County City Guide to determine the collection date for your community as well as what materials are or are not accepted. While each community has their own contact number included on the City Guide, you can also call the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District for questions or concerns at (216)443-3749.
Scrap Tires– Tires seem to just show up everywhere around northeast Ohio. Buried underground, hidden in tree lines, embedded into a river channel, or piled up in backyards. All because people don’t know what to do with them once they’ve lost their potential for driving. Although they can’t be collected with the household hazardous waste program, Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District has the solution again with their Scrap Tire Round-Up. Although the district itself only provides free tire recycling during the month of September each year, most Cuyahoga County communities have their own varying tire recycling events. Check the Tire Round-up City Guide for rules and contact information for your community.
There are also some automotive retail stores such as Firestone Auto Care, National Tire and Battery, or Conrad’s that offer tire disposal. These stores are a great option for residents in communities that do not participate in any tire recycling events. For Cuyahoga County, communities without tire pick-up or drop-off include the following:
Brecksville, Chagrin Falls Township, Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Mayfield Heights, North Royalton, Solon, University Heights, Valley View, Warrensville Heights
Problem Prevention– One of the easiest environmental problems to avoid is damage to utility lines. Damaging these lines can lead to explosions, fires, utility service problems, and injury or even death. Because this can be a very severe issue, there is actually a law to prevent it. Before ANY digging on your property (installing a fence or retaining wall, digging holes, removing or planting trees, general landscaping, etc.), you are required by law to call or notify Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) between 2 and 10 business days before starting a digging project. To report an upcoming project, call 8-1-1 or (800)362-2764 or use the OUPS App.
If a gas line is for any reason damaged or leaking at any time, immediately call 9-1-1 and turn off any running vehicles or machines nearby.
Illegal Dumping– While many people care about preserving and improving our environment, there are also plenty of people that don’t care. Without using the proper recycling and disposal techniques mentioned above, large amounts of trash are often abandoned on empty or unmaintained lots and left to rot. As well as making an environment look bad, all of this trash attracts rodents and insects and the diseases they carry to the area. This creates a source of pollution to both the air and any water that runs over this trash. It also damages property value while using up government funding to clean up the messes. As of May 2015, the city of Cleveland stepped up the priority level of illegal dumping to hopefully discourage the behavior. If you catch someone in the act of illegal dumping, call 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, call (216)644-DUMP to report any activity.
Crime Stoppers has also partnered with the Cuyahoga County Environmental Crimes Task Force to catch illegal dumpers. To report a tip to Crime Stoppers, call (216)252-7463.
While this list certainly doesn’t cover every topic, it should offer a good start to finding help with whatever environmental problem you are facing. There are also many environmental organizations and programs throughout Cuyahoga County that are there to help you with whatever they can, including all of us here at CSWCD.
Blog author: Jon Jameyson, Natural Resources Intern