Volunteers needed for River Sweep

WHEELING – A wedding dress and convertible are among past finds of an annual effort to remove litter from the Ohio River, so there’s no telling what volunteers may find during River Sweep 2014.

This year’s River Sweep will take place June 21. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission is seeking volunteers for the riverbank cleanup that extends the entire length of the Ohio River and beyond. More than 3,000 miles of shoreline will be combed for trash and debris.

Local River Sweep locations include Heritage Port in Wheeling, Riverfront Park in Moundsville, the Historic Wharf, 12th Street boat ramp, 17th Street Playground and 5th Ward Playground in Wellsburg, the Steubenville Marina, the old ferry landing behind the Wetzel County Courthouse in New Martinsville and the Paden City boat dock.

This year’s event marks the 25th River Sweep.

“In the beginning, (volunteers) were pulling appliances out of the river … even a couple vehicles. We’re not finding nearly as many large objects anymore,” said ORSANCO Communications Coordinator Lisa Cochran.

Items such as soda bottles and plastic bags are still littering the Ohio River, however. Cochran said even trash that isn’t directly thrown into the water can get filtered through the river.

“It’s a real eye-opener of how much trash and litter people throw… around the waterways,” said JB Green Team Program Director Anita Petrella, who first began her River Sweep involvement last year.

Administrative Assistant Natalie Lysle added that littered materials can be harmful to local wildlife.

FirstEnergy Corp. will donate trash bags, gloves, first aid kits, vests, glasses and other supplies for cleanup.

Those who want to volunteer for the largest environmental event of its kind can visit www.OhioRiverSweep.org for more information. Each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt.