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DHHS officials: Illegal dump sites are a growing problem in Humboldt County

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY- Department of Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health officials confirm illegal dumping is becoming a growing problem in Humboldt County.

The DHHS Division of Environmental Health received a complaint in late February of hazardous materials being dumped next to Eel River in Ferndale.  A storm was coming the following night, so DHHS officials had to work quickly.

When the DHHS Division of Environmental Health Hazardous Materials Inspector arrived, he found more than 30 containers with paint, paint-related materials, construction compounds and cleaning supplies, dumped right next to the river.

"With hazardous waste, we try to get out there as quickly as possible and clean it up before it becomes a bigger mess.  Because especially with the winter weather, we want to avoid the contamination moving off site,” said the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health, Melissa Martel.

DHHS officials got the Department of Toxic Substances Control to contract the services of a hazardous waste contractor to clean up the mess before the rain came in.

"Solvents, they're toxic.  So it gets into animals, it gets into humans.  And when it's on the river, there's drinking water sources, we don't want it contaminating peoples' water," said Martel.

Martel says illegal dump sites are becoming more common in Humboldt County, usually next to remote roads and highways. 

"We all love Humboldt County for a very good reason.  We love the natural beauty of it and we want to try to maintain the pristine beauty of this county," Martel said.

To report any illegal dumping or to find out how to properly dispose of waste, you can call the Division of Environmental Health at (707) 445-6215.