By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mobile, solar-powered cameras may be the answer a long-running Philadelphia problem: the illegal dumping of trash.

The camera program came up at a city council committee hearing Friday convened on the vexing issue of illegal trash dumping. Deputy Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams testified that nabbing the culprits is difficult.

“For us to do that, we either need to catch them, or we need to go through the trash and get an address. Unfortunately, the violators have gotten smarter. They’ve stopped placing addresses into the waste, because they know they’re doing it illegally.”

To combat this issue, the Nutter Administration has begun using high resolution, solar powered mobile cameras dispatched to locations where dumping is a constant problem. Williams said the cameras can clearly pick out the license plate — even at night.

“That’s why we believe mobile cameras are an effective tool. Then we’re able to identify people as they’re in the act, and that evidence can be used to either issue a violation or — if it’s severe enough — we can go through criminal procedures.”

The number and location of the cameras are not being divulged. Still, only 99 citations for illegal dumping have been issued by the city since the start of 2009. At the hearing, City Councilman Jim Kenney proposed another idea: hiring prison inmates at $10 an hour to clean up illegally dumped trash.

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