Woman finds dump site on her land
Now she must clean up someone else’s mess or face fines
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Vicki Carty lives in Kansas City, KS. She has family in Houston County, and owns 20 acres of property in Houston County. That property has been in Carty’s family since the 1800s, and she would like to live on it. Carty said she was notified in July 2009 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that there was a situation on her property here that needed her attention. When Carty came here to see what TCEQ described, she was heartbroken and angry. She expected to see her beautiful piece of land, complete with the pond at the back. Instead, she found a horrific dumping site. The pictures above this story, and to the left, really do not reflect what Carty found. These pictures were taken last week. Weeds camoflage the debris, and Carty has hired someone to help her clear the dump. The damage was allegedly done by a former tenant who Carty evicted when she discovered the mess. As the property owner, Carty is responsible for the clean-up. In addition to the cost of the clean-up, expensive fines from the state are a threat. Carty shared her story because it is an alert to other property owners who live out of town to check on their property. Raymond Fleming, environ-mental control officer for the city of Crockett and Houston County, said the site looked better last Tuesday than the first time he discovered it. He said some of the material can be buried, but some must be hauled off. John Ockels, director of the Texas Illegal Dumping Resource Center, is considered a guru on illegal dumping. Ockels trains city and county personnel across the state on how to stop illegal dumping. Fleming referred to Ockels’ discussion about criminal dumping on one’s own land. In his book, Local Control of Illegal Dumping, Texas 2010, Ockels explains that Section 365.012 of the Texas Code applies to all places in Texas, including one’s own land. Fleming quoted Ockels, “An individual may escape criminal responsibility for dumping on one’s own land provided that: 1) the litter or waste is generated on land the individual owns; 2) the litter or waste is not generated as a result of an activity related to a commercial purpose; 3) the disposal occurs on land the individual owns; and, 4) the disposal is not for commercial purpose.” Fleming explained, individuals can not bring garbage/debris from somewhere else onto their property for dumping. Fleming quoted Ockels again, “any disposal that saves disposal fees is forbidden. The result of each of these approaches is approximately the same: virtually no disposal is allowed on one’s own property, which is probably the intent of this law in the first place.” Carty summed up her feelings about the mess she was left to clean up, “He’s (former tenant) raped the land. It will never be the same again.” Nevertheless, she hopes to be able to move onto her property when the dump is gone.