BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 564

Desert Cleanup - BLM Barstow Field Office

A hazardous-materials crew places used motor oil into a 55-gallon container.
A hazardous-materials crew places used motor oil into a 55-gallon container.

men look over discarded tires in the desert
Livingood and Mejia work with the contractor to remove tires.

workers remove dumped waste from a mining trench
Workers remove illegaly-dumped waste from a mining trench.

Workers in HaxMat suits remove asbestos materials from a desert dump
Protective clothing and respiratory equipment is used while the concrete-asbestos shingles are removed from the dump site.



- Sterling White, BLM California Desert District Abandoned Mine Lands and Hazardous Materials Specialist (January 2013)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 564 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.

In the fall of 2012, BLM staff from the Barstow Field Office identified several illegal individual dump sites on public lands near Victorville and Lucerne Valley.  Each site was evaluated and waste was categorized as either hazardous or non-hazardous.  The hazardous waste included several 5-gallon containers of waste oil with water, soil that had been contaminated with waste oil from broken containers, and siding shingles containing asbestos.  Non-hazardous waste included tires and common household trash. 

On January 11, Double Barrel Environmental Services sent equipment to the project area and began the cleanup process.  Meeting the contractor at the site was BLM’s – Barstow Geologist Jamie Livingood and Wildlife Technician Miguel Mijia, and Sterling White,  Desert District Abandoned Mine Lands and Hazardous Materials Specialist.  The contractor carefully placed liquid items in single 55-gallon sealed container to prevent further soil contamination.  People who use public land to dump tires, paint and used motor oil are generally avoiding the costs of having it hauled away, said Livingood.

White said that dumping on public lands is a two-fold problem. It costs taxpayer money to clean up dump sites. Also, some commonly dumped items create unsafe areas for people, degrade wildlife habitat, and sometimes even harm the environment.  In 2011 alone, nearly 40,000 pounds of trash was hauled off BLM land in the California Desert, including tires, refrigerators, abandoned automobiles, and common household trash.  “In 2012,” White said, “we removed over 45,000 pounds of waste. We see all sorts of things at illegal dump sites, from crack pipes to dead animals, to household furniture, and all kinds of vehicles.”

At another location the contractor removed approximately six yards of concrete-asbestos shingles once used for siding.  Developed in the early 1900s, concrete shingles reinforced with asbestos quickly became common and were used as siding for residences. Builders used asbestos tiles for various applications before the 1970s. Then it was discovered that exposure to asbestos could cause cancer.  The shingles and other hazardous waste picked up by the contractor will be moved to a proper disposal site in Beatty, Nevada.

If you see anyone dumping trash on public lands, BLM encourages you to write down a license number, a description of the vehicle, the date, time and location, and report this information to the nearest BLM Field Office.  If it’s safe to do so, a photo of a vehicle involved in the activity is also helpful. Tips from the public greatly increase BLM’s ability to track down violators.

“We encourage the public to report instances of dumping and other crimes and to provide any identifying information in a safe manner without compromising their safety,” said White. “With the vast amount of public land in Southern California, many of these dumpsites would not be discovered as quickly without the public’s assistance.”

To report dumping on public land in San Bernadino County please call the BLM Barstow Field Office at (760) 252-6000 and ask to be put in touch with a BLM Ranger.