Illegal dumping blights Rīga cemeteries

In the past, the most popular place for certain sections of society to dump construction debris and unwanted furniture was the forest, but now Rīga's cemeteries are suffering from illegal dumping or 'fly-tipping', reported LTV's 'Studio 4' broadcast April 3.

From January this year, residents of the capital faced increased charges for disposing of waste at designated landfill sites. This appears to have prompted increasing numbers of people to take the illegal option of dumping their waste and letting someone else clear it up.

As of January 10, unsorted municipal waste, which cost 79.32 euros per tonne last year, now costs 150.77 euros per tonne. The price of construction waste has risen from 90.75 euros to 163.35 euros per tonne.

"There are situations in cemeteries where people throw their household waste in cemeteries and cemetery waste containers. Consequently, taxpayers are forced to pay for the disposal of this waste, because cemetery waste disposal is paid for from taxpayers' money,” said Gints Zēla, the acting head of the Riga Cemetery Department.

The cemetery is a popular dump site because witnesses are few and far between. Construction debris can end up in the cemetery containers and in one case even a dismantled car was brought in and left. A car repair shop dumped dozens of used tires. In another gruesome case, two apparently full body bags were found in a cemetery. Police were called. Inside were not dead bodies but what appeared to be clothes from a morgue. Removing this waste has cost the cemetery authorities several thousand euros, reported Studio 4.

However, some offenders are being caught thanks to improved video surveillance and the vigilance of cemetery workers and police. 

Toms Sadovskis, a spokesman of the Riga Municipal Police, said that several administrative violation proceedings have been initiated. Violation of waste management regulations can result in fines of up to €750 for individuals and even more for companies.

"It is cheaper to pay for the removal of this waste yourself and not take it to dump somewhere else," said Sadovskis.

Riga City Council is currently planning to install video surveillance cameras in every cemetery in Riga. The video above includes footage of several illegal dumpers in action.

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