uncovered truck

Police in Nebraska Town Helping to Enforce Policy for Covered Loads

The trash, they say, is coming from uncovered loads on the way to disposal at the city’s transfer station.

Residents from a housing development east of the Grand Island, Neb.’s solid waste transfer station have had enough of the litter in the area. The trash, they say, is coming from uncovered loads on the way to disposal at the city’s transfer station. But they may get some relief soon.

According to the Grand Island Police Department, as of this month, police are enforcing the requirement and fining those making the drive with uncovered loads up to $500 for violations. Although the city requires all loads heading to the city’s landfill and transfer station be properly covered and secured, uncovered loads have been an issue for some time.

According to city code concerning solid waste, garbage, trash, refuse, C&D waste and waste materials collected and hauled must be completely covered or otherwise contained or securely fastened so as to prevent any such materials, which are liquid in nature from seeping or leaking from the vehicle, and any solid waste materials from being blown or jarred from the vehicle onto the streets or adjoining property.

And as the problem persists, residents have taken to calling the local police department to patrol the area and catching violators.

In the past, those bringing open loads would be fined a $10 fee. But more recently, residents have been calling on the police department to step up patrols along the route to the facilities to cut down on the waste flying from improperly covered trucks and trailers.

“We’ve enforced our covered load policy at our solid waste facilities since basically 2004,” says Jeff Wattier, the city’s solid waste superintendent. “It’s not a whole lot different now, we’re still enforcing it, however, it’s gotten to the where there’s been a few people call in to the police department, so now, even our police department has started patrolling the roads, enforcing it as well, says Wattier.

Commercial customers, for the most part, are not the issue, he says. Instead, it is the residential customer or what Wattier calls the “mom and pop” customers bringing uncovered loads in pickups and trailers that seem to cause the most problem. These are uncovered loads of solid waste, whether it be construction and demolition (C&D) or regular municipal waste, people are calling the police to make it stop.

“If customers show up or residents show up without their load being covered, there’s a $10 fee here at the transfer station. But to be proactive, as part of that fee, we then give them an eight-foot-by-12-foot tarp to use from that point forward,” says Wattier.

The hope is to prevent the resident from returning in the future with another uncovered load. The facilities do not keep track of those who are fined for violations, he says.

However, as Wattier understands it, the police over the past couple of weeks, are pulling over violators before they arrive at the transfer station. The first time fine is $59 plus court fees, he says. Then, if they continue on to the transfer station with the uncovered load, the $10 fee is also assessed.

Leaves, tree branches and grass are also disposed of at a composting site at the transfer station, and also must be covered so that nothing blows out while transporting to the transfer station, according to a police department press release. The rules for hauling to the transfer station will be strictly enforced. All trash must be covered and no liquid waste, including oil, gas and paint, can be disposed of at the site.

“We’ve enforced it for 12 years now, and I don’t expect it to change,” says Wattier. “Obviously we get some very irate customers, but on the other hand, those living along the travel corridors to our facilities don’t want to deal with somebody’s trash.”

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