Juneau International Airport has tightened security, not to prevent terrorist attacks, but to stop people from dumping garbage there.
In June alone, 11 refrigerators and some scrap metal were dumped at the airport's fuel tank farm. People also threw away household items and furniture at the airport's burn pile site, which people can access through the general aviation area.
"We found desks, a playpen, a stroller, toys and tons of other things at the fuel tank farm," said airport business manager Patricia deLaBruere. "It was just growing."
Airport officials said they were able to track down one offender - because he threw away his high school diploma along with an easy chair.
Use of the airport as a dump site has become a financial burden, officials said. According to airport manager Allan Heese, disposing of a refrigerator costs $300. So far, the airport has spent $1,684 getting rid of 20 tons of garbage. In 2004, the airport spent $3,100 on garbage disposal.
Officials have taken measures to control access to the airport.
Private pilots and small commercial operators have to use electronic security cards to enter the general aviation area. People also need a security card to access the gate on the east side of the airport near the Glacier Fire Station.
Airport officials changed the security codes to the fuel tank farm. They cleaned up the site so strangers will be easily spotted. They are now working with the police to develop 1.5 acres of the tank farm into a storage area for impounded and abandoned cars. They may install cameras at the tank farm's entrance.
"We hope that we will have more eyes to see what is going on," deLaBruere said.
I-Chun Che can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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