Volunteer clean-up project unearths illegal dumping site

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It started out as a typical volunteer project with people picking up trash.

But then Volunteers from Green Mountain Coffee uncovered an illegal dump site.

They pulled out tons of trash from the woods near the Ijams Nature Center. Trash like glass bottles, kitchen tiles and old carpet.

"It's a good area to be in. But seeing all this trash, it's terrible to look at," volunteer Brandon Pickett says.

Peter Roquemore, national river clean-up manager for American Rivers, says the group was helping with Ijams' annual River Rescue project.

"We stumbled upon this illegal dump here, where we were picking up garbage, easily about two or three thousand pounds of bottles alone."

Some of the more bizarre things workers pulled from the woods were a 14-foot basketball goal, diving flippers and the head of a "Chucky" doll.

Local 8 News called the city to find out if they knew about this site off McClure Lane.

Director of Public Service David Brace says they've had problems with this area in the past. He says they're looking into this most recent dump.

When they get a complaint, the city typically tries to track who dumped the garbage.

"And amazingly, people leave their mail and receipts and other things in the dump," he says.

Usually, if they catch culprits, they'll charge them what it costs for the city to clean it up. That's only part of the cost. Although they don't keep a record, the city spends its dollars inspecting and tracking dump sites.

"We would rather put those resources into other services for our customers if we didn't have to deal with illegal dumping," Brace says.

He says that's why volunteer clean-ups like this one have a significant impact. Tuesday's volunteers pulled so much trash out of the woods that they had to scramble to find additional dumpsters.

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