A leisurely drive through the countryside can help people relax and unwind – at least until they turn the corner into an unsightly, illegal and dangerous dumpsite.
To help reclaim the rural environment, Oklahoma State University Extension is joining forces with the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, to host an Oklahoma environmental law enforcement training seminar Sept. 24 in McAlester, Oklahoma. The free event is being held at the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office, 1210 NW St. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the program scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Keima Borsuah, OSU Extension assistant state specialist with the Solid Waste Management Program, said such dump sites can contaminate the soil, ground water, drinking water wells, streams and rivers.
“Aside from being unsightly, illegal dumpsites bring other side effects such as damage to plant and wildlife habitats and possible injury to children who may be playing in the area,” Borsuah said. “These dumpsites also can decrease the quality of life to nearby residents and the local community and affect property values.”
Law enforcement officers, tribal environmental representatives, county commissioners, city officials and local citizens are encouraged to attend.
“We encourage anyone who is interested in environmental law and those with a responsibility for preventing illegal dumping in their county to attend this seminar,” she said.
Participants will learn about environmental crime, dealing with hazardous waste, open burning, state and federal Clean Air Acts, Safe Drinking Water Act, environmental crime statutes, Oklahoma’s littering and dumping laws and more. Eight hours of law enforcement credit is available; registrants should include their CLEET number on the registration form
Michael Freeman, senior criminal investigator with ODEQ, will be on hand to speak about agency jurisdictions and environmental crime statutes and to give an overview of illegal dumping and environmental crime awareness. Borsuah will share information about OSU Extension’s role and what citizens can do to help control illegal dumping.
Borsuah said this in-person event will follow local COVID-19 guidelines. The seminar is free, but due to limited space of 15 participants, pre-registration is required. The registration form is available online. For more information, contact Borsuah at 405-744-9827.