Illegal Dump: An Eyesore And Possibly Environmental Hazard

It's possibly the worst case of Trashing East Texas since we began our series a few months ago. This time it's a private junk yard, not only giving our community an eyesore, but possibly harming the environment. It's located in Gregg County, off Highway 135 North, near Gladewater. That's just north of the Shallow Creek Golf Resort.

"They'll say, well this is a business, I'm just temporarily storing it. But it's a loophole, it's a way of trying to get out of doing the right thing. But it's definitely an eyesore now, and it's definitely within 300 feet of a road way."

Which Gene Keenon says is a violation of Texas State Law. And he should know, he's a member of the East Texas Council of Government's Solid Waste Advisory and a Keep Texas Beautiful Ambassador. For weeks now, Gene and several other residents have been up in arms about what they see on their daily commute.

"I know that this has been reported before and it's still the same way, if not worse than before. It just doesn't look good for our state," says Gene.

It may mean serious trouble for our environment. Just from the gate on the road side, you can see between 50 and 100 refrigerators. But behind the trees and debris, there could be acres more.

"CFC's or Chlorofluorocarbons, is what it is. It's basically freon," says Bob Cox.

That means chemicals leaking into the ground and air all around. Bob Cox, an area landfill operator says those CFCs are released from the appliances over time, and deplete the ozone. We also found at least twenty 55 gallon drums, which Gene says are a huge concern to environmental agencies.

"We've learned so many lessons over the years about what has happened to our groundwater when there's lead an mercury and so many of these metals in it. Over the years that is bad for us, as far as nervous system disorders and even birth defects," says Gene.

Aside from environmental safety, Gene and Bob say the dumps are an issue of pride and taking responsibility.

"It's very easy to do it properly, all it takes is just a little effort,"says Bob.

"I'm committed. It's not just cause of my job, I am definitely committed," says Gene.

Gene says he's talked to several others who have reported the problem to the Health Department, the agency responsible for looking into illegal dumping and littering in Gregg County. County Officials were not available for response today. And no one at this time knows who owns that private junkyard.