State environmental agents began investigating Friday the illegal trash dumping that recently occurred on Autumn Moon Lane near its junction with Millchop Lane in Magnolia.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control agents have begun investigating trash and animal remains dumped along Autumn Moon Lane in Magnolia at some point.
The investigation began on Friday afternoon based on an inquiry made by the Dover Post about the trash and how the state handled such illegal dumping. Ronald Pyle, of Magnolia, had called the newspaper to complain about the trash, which he said was an ongoing problem.
The trash that Pyle reported was near Autumn Moon Lane's junction with Millchop Lane. But the Dover Post also photographed two more trash piles 200 to 600 feet due north of the first pile, respectively. The second pile was composed of two bags that contained animal remains – still decomposing. The third pile farther north was composed of more trash bags.
The development of Alexander's Village is to the west of this section of Autumn Moon Lane, while a vast farm is across the street, one of Kent County's more rural areas.
"I don't know whether it's an economic thing, but it seems like there are more and more trash bags on the side of the road," Pyle said. "These are people who don't have trash service."
Pyle said he appreciated the fact that state crews periodically cleaned up the mess. But he wished the state or Kent County would take a more proactive approach to prevent more illegal garbage dumping along roadways.
"It's about time they threw some heavy fines on people," he said. "It's s a shame that they have to come out and pick this stuff up. My contention is why don't we turn around and fine these people? That's the only thing that's going to stop them."
Pyle was not the only person frustrated with the illegal dumping. Someone opened one of the trash bags and found an address that could be connected to the trash's origin. That person, who is unknown, posted signage with the found address.
Delaware State Police Master Cpl. Gary Fournier cautioned that the discovery of an address among the trash did not necessarily prove anything. The state would have to conduct a fuller investigation to get to the bottom of things, he said.
"The fact of the matter is that this could have occurred by debris falling out of a dump truck," Fournier said. "If it's occurring weekly, it's definitely a problem."
It was important for people to call and report suspected trash dumping as it occurred, particularly if someone was caught in the act, he added.
As for the state's ongoing investigation along Autumn Moon Lane, DNREC Environmental Crimes Unit Chief James Faedtke began an investigation Friday afternoon.
"An officer from DNREC's Environmental Crimes Unit went to Millchop Lane in Magnolia, found the trash as described and conducted an investigation," DNREC spokeswoman Joanna Wilson said. "At this time, the ECU does not have enough evidence to cite a suspect, but will be monitoring the area."
In addition, the Kent County SPCA would investigate if animal cruelty played a role in the animal dumping, Kent County Levy Court spokeswoman Kia Evans said.
As for cleanup, the Delaware Department of Transportation was charged with cleaning up trash along the state's roadways, DelDOT Community Relations Officer Jim Westhoff said.
"Annually, DelDOT picks up about 65,000 bags of trash per year," he said. "And we are assisted by hundreds of adopt a highway volunteer groups who agree to clean up sections of their adopted roads three times a year."
Westhoff said state residents could also help stop illegal dumping by calling DNREC's 24-hour toll-free hotline at (800) 662-8802.