By: Julia Deng
ODESSA - People are improperly disposing of large items - including furniture, toilets, refrigerators and mattresses - near dumpsters and in alleys throughout Odessa, according city officials.
Illegal dumping is a misdemeanor in Texas.
"This is illegal and prevents household trash from being put in dumpsters," said Andrea Goodson, the Public Information Officer for the City of Odessa. "We'll get [those illegally dumped items] picked up. But it's very, very time consuming to send an extra crew out there to do that."
The city employs 40 solid waste drivers, who serve the 33,000 households in Odessa that pay for trash collecting services.
An additional "special" clean-up crew, consisting of four men, focus specifically on collecting illegally dumped items.
Together, the 44 of them pick up after approximately 100,000 people who live in Odessa.
"It's a big city and not a very big team [of trash collectors]... but they are doing their best to get out there twice a week to pick up trash," said Goodson. "This really needs to be more of a community effort. We need residents to do their part in properly disposing of items that do not belong in dumpsters."
Construction materials, tree limbs, furniture, large home appliances, animal carcasses and car parts are among the list of items that are not permitted in dumpsters or alleys in Odessa.
"If it's too big to put in a dumpster, it's probably illegal," said Goodson.
Tabitha Esparza told NewsWest 9 her neighborhood had been ravaged by illegal dumping.
"If you go behind our house, there's couches out there [and] there's refrigerators out there," said Esparza. "Out on the south side [of Odessa], it's really horrible and it's just getting worse day by day."
She has young children and said she worried about "safety and cleanliness."
"I don't know if [our trash collectors] are really coming by twice a week, but I'm hoping that they would come by more often than they do."
According to Goodson, trash collection schedules change weekly.
"As much as we would love to say, 'Every Thursday morning, your trash is going to get picked up,' that's just not a reality," she said. "But we do get out there twice a week. We try to get out there earlier in the week and then later in the week as well."