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Large illegal dump discovered in the middle of Corbin

Bishop Street resident Dennie Comer, above, said he was surprised to find a large illegal dump site in a well-hidden gully only about 20 yards from his home last week. He's lived at the residence over two years and said he did not realize it was there.

Bishop Street resident Dennie Comer said he was shocked last week when doing a good deed for a neighbor revealed a massive illegal dump in a gully only about 20 yards from his home.

Comer said he was picking up trash around his neighbor's house recently when he spotted some tires through the trees. Closer inspection revealed a well-concealed problem that was much bigger than he first imagined.

"I thought, woah! That's a pretty big dump to be right in the middle of Corbin," Comer said. "I was kind of surprised I was living so close to it and never really knew anything about it."

Hundreds of old tires and some other refuse like small appliances and trash is piled into the gully which runs from an auxiliary parking lot across the street from Doctor's Park all the way to Maynor Street below.

Corbin Building Inspector Frank Burke, who also serves as the city's Code Enforcement Officer, said he went on-site to document the illegal dump last Friday, and went back again Monday with Whitley County Solid Waste Coordinator Danny Moses to assess the situation.

"Unfortunately, there's not any funds available from the state right now. He [Moses] told me the 2012 list for Whitley County has already been submitted, so clean up for this one couldn't be approved until 2013," Burke said.

Moses confirmed Tuesday that it was too late to add the dump to Whitley County's list of those submitted to the state. He said the county is targeting about 10 dumps to be cleaned up next year using mostly state funds. Only 25 percent of cleanup would come from the county coffers.

"The situation with illegal dumps is getting a lot better. We do dumpster days at different locations each month. It's helped, especially in one of the areas where we had a lot of dumps," Moses said. "Most of the ones left to clean up are old dumps. I think the one in Corbin is an old dump. When you find moss growing on the tires, that means it has been there awhile."

Moses said he was surprised at the size of the Corbin dumpsite and the sheer number of tires in one spot.

"We could have prisoners go in there and get the tires, but we don't have the equipment to get what's probably buried in there," Moses said. "It's kind of up to Corbin what they want to do. We'll probably let it lay until 2013. As old as it is, it's caused all the damage it is going to do to the environment."

Burke said the city might take an alternate course to get the site cleaned up more quickly.

"Right now, I'm trying to look at alternate methods to get it cleaned up."

Burke said those methods could include utilizing the city's Public Works Department to remove the dump. But that has one drawback - the city would be responsible for paying for the disposal fee for the tires that can be significant, upwards of $3 or so per tire.

Also, the city could hold the property owners liable for cleanup. In this case, it could be problematic. The dumpsite, Burke said, lies exactly at the intersection of three separate properties owned by three separate property owners.

Burke said the dump likely formed in this particular location because of ease of access and the fact it is relatively hidden. A paved parking lot leads close to the drop off that descends into the gully.

Burke said he suspects individuals who don't want to pay fees for disposal of tires, along with unscrupulous auto shops who likely collect the fee, then dump the tires illegally in order to increase profits are no doubt to blame for the problem.

Comer said he's noticed some tires lying about in a field next to the parking lot and above the dumpsite, but never thought much about it.

"I'm worried about the effect it could have on the water," Comer said. "Plus, there's some kids that live around here and I wouldn't want one of them to get hurt playing in there. Places like that seem to attract kids. It's sort of out of sight but it is dangerous. Something should be done about it."

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