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Public Service Commission alters waste pickup

PARKERSBURG – Commercial trash haulers in West Virginia do not have to pick up bulk items or waste that is not in garbage bags under an order issued this week by the Public Service Commission.

It’s part of an effort to reduce the chances of exposing sanitation workers to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia issued an order Monday waiving the requirement that motor carriers collect bulk goods like furniture and appliances. It also lets haulers who hand-collect limit their efforts only to garbage placed in closed bags.

“They don’t know what they’re picking up,” said John Reed, director of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, which regulates the local landfill and promotes recycling. “This just narrows that down (so) the only thing they have to pick up is the sealed trash bag itself.”

Municipalities do not fall under PSC requirements for sanitation if they provide their own service, but Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce announced this week that the city would be following the same guidelines, starting today.

“(Haulers) will catch up on the bulky goods after this state of emergency is lifted,” Reed said.

Reed also noted that the Wood County Northwestern landfill’s “free day,” when fees are waived on the first Saturday of the month, has been canceled until further notice.

A pair of commercial haulers serving parts of Washington County said Tuesday they have not implemented any service restrictions.

“We are taking additional steps to ensure the safety of our team members as well as our customers,” said Gayane Makaryan, East Area communications manager for Rumpke Waste & Recycling, which provides trash service in Marietta and other parts of the county. “There are steps you can also take to prevent the spread of disease.”

Rumpke and Kimble, which provides trash service in Belpre, ask customers to bag all of their trash, place their trash at the curb the night before scheduled pickup, make sure all recyclable items are empty and dry and place items loosely in the recycling bin, rather than in bags. Rumpke also recommends that customers wipe down or hose out trash and recycling receptacles periodically.

“Words can’t express the admiration and appreciation we have for our team, along with all others who are providing vital service and expertise during this critical time in our history,” Makaryan said. “Waste collection is vital to protecting the public’s health. We know from history that without regular waste collection, disease and illness spread.”

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Steps customers can take to lower the risk of sanitation workers contracting COVID-19:

* Bag all trash. This reduces employee exposure to items like used tissues and other personal hygiene products.

* Place trash at the curb the night before scheduled service.

* Wipe down trash or recycling receptacles or hose them out periodically.

* Continue to place recycling in the bin loose. Ensure only correct items are placed in the recycling container.

* Make certain all recyclable bottles, jugs, and cans are empty and free of liquid.

* Remember items like trash bags and grocery bags, tissues, napkins and paper cups aren’t accepted as recycling.

* Properly dispose of medical sharps. Medical sharps used to administer medication to individuals or pets should be placed in a rigid plastic container, clearly marked “Sharps,” sealed shut and placed in trash.

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