OKLAHOMA CITY - Roadside dumping has increasingly become an unsightly problem in Oklahoma, but if a bill authored by Senator Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta is successful this legislative session, relief may soon be on the way.
"Roadside dumping is a widespread problem in the rural areas of Oklahoma," said Senator Shurden. "Although it's illegal for people to leave garbage anywhere except where the state officially permits it, many people leave their trash on the side of the road because they choose not to make the effort to take their trash to a legal dump."
Under current law, the fines for illegal dumping can range anywhere from $200 to $1,000 a day. Shurden's proposal calls for a maximum fine of $5,000 for garbage disposed of illegally and/or confiscation of vehicle and/or trailer used to dump trash illegally.
"A larger fine combined with the loss of vehicles may drive home the fact that people just can't leave their garbage anywhere they choose. Plans need to be in place to make sure trash gets taken to a site where it's okay to leave it," said Shurden. "Furthermore, it's not just an issue about ugly roads littered with trash. Leaving garbage scattered everywhere can compromise the health of rural citizens. It also infringes on the rights of property owners when trash is dumped on their land by people who don't want to find a legal dump."
As the law stands today, a person who leaves an old refrigerator in a ditch or throws a candy wrapper out of a car is slapped with the same fine. Shurden's proposed legislation would change the way illegal dumping is penalized.
"Our state is increasingly showing more debris and garbage along the roads, and we must get a handle on it before it detracts from the beauty of our state any more than it already does," said Senator Shurden. "It all comes down to taking pride in Oklahoma and protecting our law-abiding citizens."