SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Spartanburg County leaders need your help to keep the Upstate clean.

The county is targeting people in multiple cases who are illegally dumping in areas around the county.

“We are tired of littering in Spartanburg County. We are tired of people illegal dumping in Spartanburg County, so we got to step our game up to get these people to stop,” said Jamie Nelson, Director of Spartanburg County Environmental Enforcement Department.

You might see no dumping signs near Faith Tabernacle Church of Spartanburg, but last Wednesday, three people got out of a truck and dumped building material behind the place of worship.

The items were dumped on Scruggs Avenue, and now the county needs your help identifying the truck and the people seen in the video released to 7News.

“Fortunately enough, while these people were doing their dumping, one of the citizens actually stepped out and recorded it,” Nelson said. “So these gentlemen were dumping building material – sheetrock things, along that line. Obviously where they’ve done some renovation work somewhere and for whatever reason choose not to take it to the landfill which is where it should’ve went.”

Leaders from the church were shocked to hear this happened.

“Initially, it’s upsetting to say the least,” said Faith Tabernacle Church of Spartanburg Pastor Brandon Whitehurst. “We have made it a conscious effort to do everything we can as a church family, by setting up community days to clean. If you’re going down Sullivan, we’ve kind of adopted that piece of property to clean to make sure that it’s up kept and we try to do the same with our facilities,” he said.

The piece of property where the illegal dumping occurred, is near and dear to the church.

“We’ve been in the process since we’ve been there on Howard Street, God has blessed us to begin to acquire some of the property, because of some future plans that we would like to see put into place and some things we would like to bring into the community,” said Whitehurst.

“And so we’ve been on a conscious effort as a church family, acquiring some of that land as God gives us increase to do so. And to have heard I guess that it is adjacent to the lot that we’re trying to currently acquire, you know it is somewhat upsetting,” he said.

Nelson said illegal dumping is happening all over the county. He also said it’s a problem throughout the Upstate.

“This is a problem in Spartanburg County, Greenville County, Anderson County, Laurens County, Union County,” Nelson said.

(Courtesy: Jamie Nelson, Director of Spartanburg County Environmental Enforcement Department)

“The problem is, we got these knuckleheads–we got to stop them,” Nelson said.

Currently, Nelson said there are six open cases in the county. Nelson said recently their cameras caught another act on Burke Avenue.

“Pulled up, had some mattresses in the back and just has a gentleman get out of the car nonchalantly takes the mattresses and tosses them on the side of the road,” Nelson said. “You know we’d like to find him, find out what in the world is going on.”

There’s also a case on Blanchard Road.

“We went through some video today where individuals dumped some brush on Blanchard Avenue. My officers are in the process of tracking that person down today,” Nelson said.

Officials said dumping is not only against the law, but it hurts the environment and could have an impact on your wallet.

“It’s two-fold. Along with messing up the environment, because we never know what these people are putting out there, it’s also hurting your tax dollars because if it’s on this roadside right here, either a litter crew has to come get it, or a road department crew has to come get it, and that’s tax dollars being wasted because of some person could not just go to the landfill,” Nelson said.

Nelson now wants more people to speak up if they see anyone participating in the crime.

(Courtesy: Jamie Nelson, Director of Spartanburg County Environmental Enforcement Department)

“Spartanburg County, Upstate, South Carolina–let’s start lighting up litterbugs. Let’s stop making this a norm. If you see this happen, call us,” Nelson said. “Call us. Call 911. If you see someone illegal dumping, dial 911.”

Pastor Whitehurst hopes something will change.

“It kind of leaves you speechless, to say the least. I believe that there are several places by which we could dispose of those things the right way. And I think it makes it harder for those of us who want to live in a community–know it’s where we feel safe but it’s decent– it looks like something,” Whitehurst said.  

“So, when someone brings trash, making your place of residence uncomfortable, it is upsetting. We have to face the facts and I believe that something needs to be done about it. What needs to be done, I think maybe the proper conversations should be had with those in authority to lay out a plan of how we can come together as one to see this end before it gets out of hand,” Whitehurst said.

Nelson said people could face jail time if involved in illegal dumping.

“So in the sheetrock incident, if I remember the video correctly, there were three gentlemen,” Nelson said. “So, we would start with illegal dumping and we would probably have it up to 500 pounds would be the charge, which would be about a $2,000 fine.

Here’s what the state law says about illegal dumping:

The State Statue is 16-11-700 Section E (E) A person who violates the provisions of this section in an amount exceeding fifteen pounds, but not exceeding five hundred pounds on any public or private property, any portion of the road right of way, fresh-water lake, river, canal or stream, or tidal or coastal waters of the State must be charged with illegal dumping of litter and is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days. In addition, the court shall require the violator to complete sixteen hours of litter-gathering labor or perform other community service. For a second conviction, the person must be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days. A person who violates the provisions of this section in an amount exceeding five hundred pounds is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

South Carolina State Law

If you know anything about these cases, or any dumping case, you can report those tips on the County’s website online, or by calling the Environmental Enforcement Department at (864)-596-3582.