The Wash

Dumped: Illegal trash builds as NoMa construction piles on

Residents are frustrated with growing piles of trash from construction sites.

Illegal dumping, which occurs when construction workers move trash from their construction sites to residential areas, is a problem plaguing NoMa.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Heather Edelman said residents are irritated by the practice, which draws rats and bad odors to the neighborhood. Garbage collectors can’t pick up construction trash in alleyways, she said, so garbage left there often stays for a long time. The problem compounds when people see piles of trash and add to them, Edelman said.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Marjorie Adams, a NoMa resident.

Illegally dumped trash once piled so high in an alleyway that Adams said her building’s residents moved it to a nearby alley so garbage collectors could reach the normal trash bins. They later moved it back so another building wouldn’t “suffer” from piles of trash clogging their alleyway, Adams said.

A dump truck is parked in NoMa. (Gabrielle Harrison / The Wash)

Adams said the trash piles are inexcusable and the District should take more action to prevent the illegal dumping. She said only some areas are regularly cleaned.

“In certain areas, it looks clean and perfect for new residents and businesses,” Adams said. “But for the rest of us, it’s piles of garbage.”

NoMa is a rapidly developing area with construction planned through 2024, according to NoMa Business Improvement District. Clark Construction, which is responsible for much of the neighborhood’s development, did not respond to a request for comment.

While some residents were upset by the construction, others said it would improve residential areas and bolster local businesses.

“We’re developing and upgrading, so it’s necessary,” said Mira Lewis, a NoMa resident.

Building construction in NoMa continues as piles of trash build. (Gabrielle Harrison / The Wash)

Although the illegally dumped construction trash is inconvenient for residents, Lewis said she’s confident the city will resolve the issue in due time.

Resident Lauren Wise said she hates the ongoing construction and resulting garbage. She said there has been construction of some sort in the area for as long as she can remember.

Wise said she has been researching ways to stop construction companies from dumping their trash in residential areas.

“It’s really inconvenient and makes everyone look bad,” she said. “It’s not like we’re a dirty city. We’re just under construction.”

Edelman said she worries ongoing projects in NoMa may cause more illegal dumping and greater resident discontentment.

“Trash begets trash,” she said.

Gabrielle Harrison

Gabrielle Harrison

Future storyteller. I'm a graduate journalism student at American University.

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