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Countywide : Hazardous Waste Hot Lines Opened

County officials have opened telephone hot lines so people can report illegal hazardous waste dumping.

The Environmental Health Division is targeting sewage or waste spills into oceans, lakes or rivers and waste dumping by businesses or individuals.

County officials hope to ease one of their main problems, illegal dumping in county landfills, through the Haz-Mat SWAT hot line, which allows people an opportunity to anonymously report businesses or individuals who unlawfully dispose of hazardous waste. The Haz-Mat hot line is (714) 667-3710.

“We’ve had some instances where a (trash hauler) is in the awkward position of working for a business that is illegally disposing hazardous waste,” said Denise Fennessy, county hazardous waste specialist. “This gives (trash company employees) a place where they can call anonymously and report these problems.”

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County workers have seen hazardous substances such as solvents mixed in sawdust dumped into landfills. Household hazardous waste products, such as used motor oil, paint and pesticides are often found in landfills, Fennessy said.

Any firm found to be intentionally or recklessly disposing of hazardous wastes will be referred to the county district attorney’s office for possible prosecution. Representatives of the Orange County Advisory Team, a coalition of public service agencies including the county Fire Department, the Southern California Air Quality Management District and others, will first visit the offending company to offer advice on proper disposal methods.

“We don’t run out there with sirens blazing,” Fennessy said. “We will do education and if needed, prosecution.”

Questions about the program can be answered by calling (714) 667-3700 during business hours.

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The county also provides the Recreational Water Information Line, which alerts beach goers to sewage and waste spills at the county shorelines. A recorded message also gives out additional phone numbers to report spills.

Government employees who see environmental infractions occur while they are at work can call (714) 667-3765.


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