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Garbage Disposal
by Jerry A. Cegelske


March 23, 2004

In her response to my article, Mary Gebhard suggested using a collection system they have in Fairbanks where dump stations are placed around the Borough for people to dump their garbage. Having lived half a mile from the Steese Highway dump station at Farmer's Loop, I am familiar with the system. There are some advantages and some of the same problems.

Everyone pays for the system as they do here. The negative that I have seen is that someone has to clean up the mess at the dump station. People take their trash to the station and if the dumpsters are full, the trash is left on the ground. Hazardous materials are to be taken directly to the landfill but often get left at the dump station for someone to take care of later (due to the cost of taking it to the landfill for proper disposal). Paints and other materials get mixed where they shouldn't as not all stations have facilities for taking materials other than the trash. Trees and wood products have a special container for disposal of these items, but if it is full, they get dumped into another dumpster. Nobody monitors the dump station and a small amount of trash gets blown around in the area- Fairbanks does not have the high winds we have here (I heard high wind warnings given when it was to blow 40mph!). Some of the materials and items get left to be recycled by whoever wants to pick through them. Ketchikan is small enough that the dump is close enough for everyone to use, (the North Star Borough has 80,000 people and extends south of Ester to the East of North Pole). The economic base in Fairbanks is greater to support the dozen or so stations.

The same basic problem exists in Fairbanks as in Ketchikan and that is ATTITUDE! People do not feel responsible for their trash. They do not cover their loads and don't care if it blows out of the back of the truck. Fairbanks has a cleanup week just as we have here. A week after cleanup week, the roadsides near the dump stations look the same with trash and litter from people taking it to the dump station in place of the dump in Ketchikan (same problem different spot).

Until attitudes change and people take the responsibility, trash will continue to be a problem in both Fairbanks and Ketchikan. Both systems have their merits and problems but the system isn't the solution when the biggest problem is the people littering in the first place. Many people take their trash to the dump or dump station and don't litter on the way because they would not want to be responsible for littering. Many just don't care as long as the McDonalds' trash is not in their car or blows out the back of their truck before they get home. When the couch and love seat were dumped, it came from a place closer to the dump than to Revilla Road where it was dumped. Their attitude is that someone will clean up the mess for me so who cares!

Once again, the Society of American Foresters are cleaning up Mile 6 N.Tongass this morning. A big "Thanks" to the guy doing the work picking up all those styro bowls. He had already picked up the vinyl flooring and other materials I earlier described.

I'll tell you the rest of the vinyl flooring story after I issue the citations!

Jerry A. Cegelske
Code Enforcement Officer
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Viewpoint:

RE: Northend Serious Dumpers burying Southend Litterbugs by Mary Gebhard - Fairbanks, AK - USA



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