Illegal dumping of waste is one example of an environmental violation. Other violations may include burning garbage, foul smelling drinking water, and the demolition of buildings containing asbestos. Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for enforcing laws that protect Ohio’s environment from pollution and maintain healthy air, water, and surroundings. Other problems that relate to maintaining a healthy environment may be the responsibility of other agencies. For example, mold and lead contamination is managed by the health department. To learn about Ohio’s EPA, visit http://www.epa.state.oh.us.
When residents are concerned about a problem such as illegal dumping or another environmental hazard, they can file a complaint with the Ohio EPA district office. The district office helps citizens report alleged violations and then investigates the complaint. Complaints can be filed by calling a hotline (Northeast District 1-800-686-6330) or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints may be made anonymously. Alternatively, a person can make a verified complaint to the EPA which requires a written, sworn statement as to the facts about the violation and identification of the specific law, rule, or order that is being violated.
A person filing a complaint should provide as much detail as possible about the situation. Following the complaint, the EPA will investigate or direct the complaint to another appropriate agency. Depending on the results of the investigation, enforcement action may follow or the matter may be referred to the Attorney General to pursue legal action.
Groups of neighbors or residents who have common concerns about current environmental violations in their community may contact Legal Aid to find out if additional help is available on their issue. When calling Legal Aid, ask to speak with a member of the Community Engagement Group.
This article was written by Cinnamon Williams and Anne Sweeney and appeared in The Alert: Volume 33, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!