April 22, 2020
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is celebrating Earth Day by reminding citizens that the District Attorney’s Environmental Crimes Division stands ready to investigate and prosecute illegal dumping and industrial crimes that affect the environment.
“Any neighborhood in Harris County can be victimized by illegal dumping, and any person can be affected by industrial pollutions and environmental crimes,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said Wednesday. “For the past 50 years, we have recognized Earth Day as a time to remember that we all have a duty to be good stewards of the environment.”
The Environmental Crimes Division of the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes violations of environmental laws in Harris County. That includes rural tire dumping, toxic chemicals polluting our waterways and neighborhoods where heavy trash is piled up.
The division helps educate the public and business community regarding environmental laws and the criminal consequences of violating those laws. That includes encouraging homeowner associations and neighborhoods to distribute information to residents about the schedule for “heavy trash” pick up.
“In the City of Houston, calling 3-1-1 is a great resource because they can tell you when ‘heavy trash’ is picked up,” said Assistant District Attorney Alex Forrest, Environmental Crimes Division Chief. “We only have ‘heavy trash’ pick-up on certain days, and when the neighborhood doesn’t know when those days are, people start looking for ways to discard it that may be illegal, such as moving the heavy trash to a cul-du-sac or a vacant lot in their neighborhood.”
Forrest noted that residents can also call 3-1-1 to report illegal dumping or pollution. The Environmental Crimes Division also works closely with state and federal agencies to help solve pollution problems and to prevent the recurrence of environmental violations.
“Environmental crimes often go unseen and unheard, usually because we can’t keep watch behind the steel gates of companies who don’t play by the rules or people who violate the law,” Forrest said. “We depend on our law-enforcement agencies, concerned citizens and whistleblowers for the information we need to shut down these hazardous operations.”