April 04, 2020

Pittsfield officials discuss trash situation

PITTSFIELD — Problems with delays and overloaded trucks at the Pittsfield transfer station should be ironed out soon, said town officials this week.

According to rubbish haulers, they have been left waiting to dump their trucks, sometimes for hours, because Pittsfield containers are full or on the road. These delays are affecting their ability to service their customers, they said.

Commercial haulers complained last week that two factors have combined to cause the delays. Several weeks ago, Pittsfield’s tandem tractor-trailer unit was stopped in Skowhegan by Commercial Vehicle Weight units of the Maine State Police and was cited for being overweight. Since then, the compaction containers are deliberately being sent with less tonnage.

Mathys Van Dam, Solid Waste director, said that the containers can take from 15 to 18 tons of rubbish but are being sent with partial shipments of nine and a half to 10 tons each. These light loads, he said, result in the three available containers become filled more quickly. “The containers are filling up faster,” he said, “and are also compacting less densely because of colder weather.”

Haulers also complained that with only three containers on hand, Pittsfield is handling too much waste. They say that most commercial rubbish trucks hold eight tons of trash when full and a single dumping can almost fill a compaction unit. Most haulers dump one full load a day and say that with three commercial businesses using the Pittsfield transfer station almost daily, three compaction units cannot handle the waste.

The facility is currently being used for solid waste by Pittsfield, Etna, Detroit and Thorndike. In addition, Pittsfield’s truck is hauling in tandem, pulling a second compaction container for Newport several times a week. The truck must deliver the waste to Consumat Sanco, Inc. in Bethlehem, N.H. The trip to deliver a filled container takes a full day and therefore puts one container out of service until the following day.

Van Dam said that despite the complaints, haulers have only been asked to wait “a couple of times.” He blamed the Veterans’ Day holiday for backing up the schedule. “Most of the time,” he said, “it runs well. The haulers are pretty regular. We know pretty much when they are coming in and things run smoothly. But when there is a holiday, we get two days of waste hitting us back to back, and that puts us out of step.”

Van Dam said the town is looking at the possibility of purchasing another container. “But in a time when we are trying to cut expenses,” he said. “that is a costly solution.”

“There may come a time,” he said, “when we won’t be a free with (the haulers) as we have been. We may have to set up a schedule telling them just which day and time they can dump.” Van Dam said he is currently trying to coordinate the commercial dumping to keep a smooth flow.

“Without a holiday or breakdown, the routine works okay,” he said. Van Dam also said that rubbish tonnage traditionally drops in the winter months, and that drop will help facilitate operations.

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