SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A man was arrested for illegally dumping almost 500 tires at different spots throughout the city of Springfield. 22News spoke to city officials to see just how big a problem illegal dumping is and the penalties a person could face if caught.

The investigation first started on March 15th when the city’s Clean City Initiative noticed a trend of a vast amount of tires being dumped at seven different locations in Springfield.

The locations within the city include:

  • 11 Harvey Street (50 tires)
  • 23 Cadwell Drive (35-40 tires)
  • Morris Street (2 times, 108 tires)
  • 11 King Street (75 tires), Spruce St. at Central Street (122 tires)
  • Windsor Street at Pine Street (45-50 tires)
  • 1377 Liberty Street (50 tires)

According to the city of Springfield, in total, over 485 tires were dumped by the suspect. During two weeks of investigation, the Springfield Police were on the lookout for who could be doing the illegal dumping.

Eventually, the Springfield Police were led to a person of interest after reviewing video footage of the suspect also dumping at Bondi’s Island. Rafael Rivera-Vasquez is to be charged with 8 criminal counts of illegal dumping across the city.

Rivera-Vasquez was also recently arrested on the 0-100 block of Beech Street for:

  • Operating a Motor Vehicle without a License
  • Unregistered Motor Vehicle
  • Uninsured Motor Vehicle
  • Number Plate Violation

Mayor Sarno states, “Simply put, tremendous work by our brave and dedicated Springfield Police Department.  Special thanks and a shoutout to the Clean City team, who noticed that this was not an isolated incident but a habitual offender that was illegally dumping enough tires in our city to open a used tire store – over 500 tires!”   

“We hope the courts take these charges seriously as they would not want their own lawns covered with upwards of 100 tires.  Now we need to start making sure our businesses who deal with tires are disposing of them properly,” said Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.

The problem of illegal dumping is not new to the city of Springfield. To tackle this problem, there is a network of employees in place to monitor places that get a lot of illegal trash. Technology is one of their biggest weapons in this fight.

“With the camera systems that we have in the city, getting away with it is going to be next to impossible,” said Springfield DPW Director Chris Cignoli.

Springfield’s Clean City Division monitors these camera and even moves them to different dumping hotspots. The mayor said the city has worked hard to keep collection fees down to prevent dumping.

“There’s proper ways to dispose of these materials and Springfield, very low cost to properly get rid of bulk items and curbside pick up,” said Sarno.

What happens if you are caught illegally dumping?

“The first offense is a judge can issue a fine anywhere from $1 to $5,500 and any subsequent offense could be up to $15,000,” said Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh.

Walsh adds a person’s vehicle could be seized, too. If you see any illegal dumping, the city of Springfield encourages you to report it by calling the 311 call center.