Deja Vu: The Sequel

Coming soon to an industry theater near you are the sequels to several old favorites including: Flow Control II; Ergonomics 2: Business Strikes Back; and Return of the California Campaign for Clean Air.

Don't expect the first topic to be a box office blast — the writers are just revisiting flow control as part of an ongoing saga between legislators and haulers. But the latest installment tells the tale of two New York counties that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled are exempt from the prohibition against flow control because they operate a public — not privately owned — transfer station. In the Carbone case, the designated facility was privately owned, the court noted.

Leading characters include the NSWMA, which is deciding whether to appeal because it senses impending danger if flow control is re-established anywhere in the country. Legislative battles will continue, and no one knows the ultimate ending.

The second drama, Ergonomics 2: Business Strikes Back, should at least be of mild interest. Frightening to many from the beginning, the first telling of this story became a smash hit, with business audiences especially liking the end. In preparation for this sequel, the production of which began in July, President Bush's Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, began gathering opinions on how to address ergonomics issues in the workplace.

During the summer, OSHA hosted forums in three cities to help define an ergonomics injury; whether the injury was the result of work or non-work related activities (and if both, what's the proper response?); and the appropriate government involvement.

Business representatives, including those from the solid waste industry, testified that a one-size-fits-all policy is not the best way to address work-related ergonomics problems. In fact, the solid waste industry sought an exemption from the first attempt to institute ergonomics rules last year. Although the exemption was not granted, it became a moot point when Congress repealed the Clinton administration-backed rules.

Early reviews of this sequel were mixed. “A sham,” declared Democrats Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone of the forums, while several Republicans such as Kit Bond voiced their support.

The release of Ergonomics 2 is expected in late September.

The third film, the Return of the California Campaign for Clean Air, is planned only for a limited engagement in the Golden State. In August, a federal judge ruled that California smog officials can order public agencies to buy cleaner cars, buses and trucks for their fleets. This decision centers on new rules proposed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and applies to fleets of 15 or more, including trash trucks, street sweepers and buses.

Watch for this one because many independent California productions eventually move east.

This was no sleeper of a summer, so reserve your tickets now. Another blockbuster may be heading your way in the fall.

The author is the editorial director of Waste Age Publications.