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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2010
CONTACT: Terri Durdaller (850) 245-2112 or (850) 519-2897

Tip Helps DEP Solve Illegal Waste Tire Crime

~Suspect arrested for illegally dumping more than 15,000 waste tires~

BAY COUNTY – Law enforcement agents with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently arrested John Michael Morris, 51, for improperly disposing more than 15,000 waste tires on his property. Morris is charged with violating the Florida Litter Law, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000, as well as Failure to Obtain a Waste Tire Permit, a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

“Environmental crimes, such as illegal dumping, degrade our quality of life and will not be tolerated," said DEP Division of Law Enforcement Director Henry Barnet. “The public health hazard posed by unlawfully dumped waste tires is significant, since they serve as ideal areas in which mosquitoes can breed and threaten nearby neighborhoods and communities as potential carriers of harmful diseases. With the assistance of the DEP Northwest Regulatory District office, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the Bay County Code Enforcement office, the Bay County Animal Control office, and the Florida Highway Patrol, DEP’s agents were able to solve this environmental crime preventing further degradation to the environment.”

The four month investigation began when DEP law enforcement received a request for assistance from the DEP Northwest Regulatory District office, in reference to an anonymous complaint they received in which the suspect was observed dumping waste tires on his property, located at 6822 Davis Road in Panama City. The investigation revealed that Morris dumped approximately 15,000 to 20,000 waste tires on his property, a portion of which are designated wetlands. Morris was transported and booked at the Bay County Jail on March 11, 2010.

Environmental crimes are violations of state or federal environmental laws that could impact public health and the environment, such as illegal dumping or improper disposal of used oil. Signs that an environmental crime has taken place could include corroded, leaking or abandoned waste containers; fish kills; illegal debris dumping in a natural area; or foul smelling or unsightly discharges or visible sheens on the ground or water body.

Illegal solid and hazardous waste disposal is a primary focus of DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement as illegal dumping can adversely affect underlying aquifers, which are the source for more than 90 percent of the state’s drinking water supply.

DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for statewide environmental resource law enforcement, as well as providing law enforcement services to Florida’s state parks and greenways and trails. Division personnel from the three operational bureaus patrol state lands; investigate environmental resource crimes; and respond to natural disasters, civil unrest, hazardous material incidents and oil spills that threaten the environment.

To report an environmental crime, wireless customers can dial #DEP. Callers can also report environmental crimes to the State Warning Point by calling (877) 2-SAVE-FL (1.877.272.8335). General environmental inquiries should be directed to DEP district offices during normal business hours. For more information about DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/law.

tires

"Environmental crimes, such as illegal dumping, degrade our quality of life and will not be tolerated."

Henry Barnet
DEP Law Enforcement Director

–30–

10–048

Last updated: March 19, 2010

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