Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Camera captures late-night dumpers


Since it was installed three months ago, a motion-activated camera at the Small Boat Harbor has caught 11 people dumping household trash in the harbor dumpsters.

Haines Borough Harbormaster Phil Benner had the $69 camera installed on the side of the harbor shed after dumpsters at the facility were overflowing with garbage not produced at the harbor.

The harbor’s trash bill already eats up a significant portion of the facility’s operating budget without having to dispose of illegally-dumped materials, Benner said.

The camera, which snaps a digital photograph when it senses movement, caught 11 different individuals dumping personal trash in the dumpsters, mainly between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“Considering the time of evening they are doing it, I don’t think they thought it was an okay thing to do,” Benner said. “They don’t want to pay to go to the dump like the rest of us do.”

Benner said he has been sending the images to police chief Bill Musser. “It was the same people doing it over and over again,” Benner said.

Musser said he has been talking with the borough administration and assembly members about changing code to make it easier for the department to fine people for illegal dumping. As it’s structured, the current code doesn’t allow for easy enforcement, he said.

“From what I can see, it hasn’t been dealt with in the past,” Musser said. “That’s why we’re trying to work on it and actually do something about it.”

Police have also observed illegal dumping at Tlingit Park and other public places downtown.

At this point, police aren’t sending cease-and-desist letters to people identified in the photographs, though that is an option the administration is considering.

“We’ve had officers attempt to contact (the offenders) when we can make an identification,” Musser said.

Some of the people contacted claim they have a right to use the harbor dumpsters because they have boats in the harbor. That’s another issue the ordinance will try to clarify, Musser said.

Some of the offenders, though, are residents who don’t have any excuse. “People need to go to the dump or the transfer station like everyone else instead of trying to save a couple dollars,” he said.

According to code, it is unlawful to “deposit litter generated in a person’s household, property, or business in a refuse container not owned, leased, designated, or otherwise intended to be used by that person.”