‘It’s their own personal dumping ground’: Waterbury environmental activist angry about blight

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Illegal dumping is setting off some anger in Waterbury. It keeps happening at the same spot. You might be surprised to see what’s being tossed out. And one environmental activist is letting people know.

Many people love being on a boat out on the water. But no one loves seeing that boat tossed aside like garbage on Platts Mill Road in Waterbury next to the Naugatuck River. Seeing that angered Waterbury environmental activist Kevin Zak.

Something else also angering him just the other day. Someone dumped more than 50 tires along the road.

“It’s a shame someone has to trash the environment like this,” Zak said. “This has got to stop!”

Zak has spent a good part of his life leading efforts to clean out the junk from the Naugatuck River. He heads a non-profit called The Naugatuck River Revival Group and every summer he, along with Waterbury PAL officers, lead the Waterbury PAL Naugatuck River Brigade. Together they’ve hauled out of the water everything from old, rusted factory equipment to empty soda and beer cans.

“I am just furious!” Zak said of the latest pollution, which he calls illegal dumping.

News 8 spoke with Waterbury Police to see what’s being done about illegal dumping along Platts Mill Road.

“When they [residents] put those complaints in or concerns in reference to the litter out here, it goes right to our Blight Crew who, in return, responds,” said Sgt. Robert Davis. “And when they come out here they clean it up.”

Zak says that’s exactly what happened when he notified police about the tires. Zak said the tires were gone when he drove by the area the next morning.

“Oh, the city responds fast,” Zak said.

But, he hopes for changes that will deter people from even thinking about dumping their belongings where they don’t belong.

“We should have cameras out here where people don’t even know where they are,” Zak said.

News 8 asked Sgt. Davis for a response: “I’m actually going to go back and discuss it with our Blight Division,” he said.

As for those tires that were dumped out there, police are investigating but so far they don’t know who’s responsible for that.

Zak has a theory. He believes they came from local tire shops.

“We’re all sometimes unknowingly contributing to this by allowing people that are working for you — like the tire shops – taking a fee, pocketing more than 15 percent – and letting it go [out onto the street],” Zak said.

Zak told News 8 serial numbers should be placed on the tires that are sold at tire shops, making it easier to track where the discarded tires came from.

News 8 shared Zak’s theory and idea with Sgt. Davis:

“Looking forward, the city is actually putting together an ordinance in reference to these tire shops that are frequently opening up throughout the city,” said Sgt. Davis. “More or less having them register so that we know they’re open for business and maybe we can do a better job of tracking this illegal dumping if it’s actually coming from one of those businesses.”

Zak tells News 8, whoever is doing this is making Waterbury look bad, literally, and he wants the trashing to stop.

“The people who dump down here resemble the stuff they dump,” Zak said. “They will be caught.”

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