Officials searching for suspect who dumped hazardous waste near Paso Robles

February 13, 2024


Officials are asking for the public’s help finding the suspect who dumped several drums filled with hazardous waste on the side of Monterey Road near Paso Robles.

On Dec. 18, San Luis Obispo County maintenance workers discovered five steel drums dumped at a roadside turnout on Monterey Road near Paso Robles. Through analytical testing, the county determined the drums contained benzene, a toxic, highly flammable substance.

Benzene is used in a variety of industrial manufacturing processes, and its disposal is tightly regulated as hazardous waste.

“Dumping barrels of hazardous waste along our public roadways is simply unacceptable,” said Ann Fletcher, principal environmental specialist. “Disposal of benzene is regulated for good reason – it is flammable, toxic, and it’s an environmental pollutant.”

All identifying information on the drums had been removed prior to the illegal dumping.

The county is asking that anyone who may recognize these drums or has witnessed suspicious activity from a potential originating source or on Monterey Road call the SLO County Public Works Department at (805) 781-5252.

“If you have information that can assist the County in determining the origin of these materials, we would appreciate a call,” said John Waddell, deputy director of public works. “We take the safety of the traveling public very seriously, and it is important to hold the generators of this waste accountable. This should not have happened, and we want to prevent it from happening again.”

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