Is it dangerous to allow customers to throw their own trash into a pit? A recent Register-Guard article entitled “The joy of hurling garbage into Glenwood transfer site pit” tackles the issue.
“The greatest—and maybe only—pleasure of a trip to the Glenwood trash transfer station is the chance to fling garbage into the air and watch it tumble into the massive, deep concrete collection pit,” the Register-Guard article states. “It’s a time-honored tradition at the Glenwood facility, where dumpgoers back their pickup trucks, trailers and cars to the lip of the 12-foot pit and let the flinging games begin.”
The article addresses a recent assessment by the California-based R3 Consulting Group, which looked at local facilities in the Lane County (Eugene, Ore.) area, including the Glenwood Central Receiving Station. In its assessment of the practice of allowing customers to throw trash into the pit, R3 Consulting Group’s report labels the practice as dangerous as customers have the potential to fall in.
R3 Consulting Group’s report entitled “Solid Waste Master Plan Development, Phase 1 – Operational Assessment,” which was submitted to the Lane County government in March 8, 2016, states, “We are concerned with the current unloading system where self-haul customers hand-unload waste at the edge of the main pit. This 12-foot high wall poses a significant risk of injury or fatality if someone fell over the edge. Additionally, the two cables do not provide an adequate level of fall protection.”
Glenwood is not the only station with such a configuration, the report states. “We do recognize that a number of other transfer stations have similar layouts, and that dumping over an edge is a historical industry standard. However, we should also note that many, if not most, facilities are moving away from this type of system, and replacing it with one where self-haul customers dump on grade (i.e., on a flat concrete slab).”
R3 Consulting Group recommends customers drop their stuff on the secure, flat ground, 12 feet from the edge and that rubbish be pushed over the edge with a wheel loader or skid steer loader. The report acknowledges the increased cost such a change would cause but says it will reduce liability issues for the county.
What’s to happen to the local trash flinging tradition in light of R3’s recommendations?
Not much, as people really shouldn’t be flinging their trash in the first place says the spokesperson for the facility.
“While ‘trash flinging’ has a ring to it, there isn’t actually a tradition (or really even a practice) of doing so at Glenwood,” says Devon Ashbridge, public information officer, Lane County. “The consultant did make note of our use of the pit in Glenwood (versus dumping on flat ground) and in such a rainy climate a covered pit has served us well at the transfer station. Users do back up to a barrier and offload their garbage into the pit where it is then compacted and loaded for transport to the landfill; flinging is not encouraged. Most people just tip it over the side.”
The goal is to keep everyone safe. “We have signs that prohibit entering the pit to retrieve items and reminding customers what materials are not welcome in the pit and should instead be disposed of through our hazardous materials program,” says Ashbridge.
So, while the flinging may go on, such sporting activities are not encouraged by the facility. Time will tell if the configuration will be altered in light of R3 Consulting Groups recommendations.