Maryland Department of the Environment
TALES FROM THE TRASHNET
BALTIMORE (February 22, 1999) - Officials from theMaryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Anne Arundel County Police, Baltimore County Police, Prince George's County Police and the Maryland Department of the Environment stopped and inspected 650 trucks and issued 759 violations during last week's Multi-state Waste Trashnet.
Enforcement numbers show that of the trucks stopped in Maryland, 87 were placed out-of-service for being overweight, having faulty brakes or having unsecured loads and 25 drivers were taken out of service for license or logbook violations. The trucks-out-of-service number is 13 percent of the total stopped. The regional operation, which was the first of its kind in the nation, was conducted at 45 sites in eight states (Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia) and Washington D.C. Participants inspected more than 3,800 trucks carrying solid waste. The inspections focused on truck safety and environmental protection.
Besides the number of vehicles stopped and inspected, officials are talking about trends they observed during the operation. Many of the trucks are traveling through Delaware on Route 301 and traveling through Maryland's Eastern Shore to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. At a Route 301 inspection site located 2 miles south of the Delaware line, five trucks were placed out of service on the first day.
One truck, which was carrying construction and demolition debris to the PST Reclamation Landfill in Anne Arundel County, was 28,000 pounds overweight. The other four overloaded trucks were loaded with municipal waste destined for landfills in Virginia.
The majority of the 11 Maryland inspection sites operated from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. This was arranged so that the waste trucks, which travel at night from waste pickup points in New York and New Jersey to Virginia would be intercepted. These trucks arrive at the landfills in Virginia at the crack of dawn when they open and then return north empty for another trash load pickup.
One of the most heated subjects was the issue of safety and accidents on roads involving trash haulers. A trash truck from New Jersey overturned on the second day of the operation, after pulling onto a soft shoulder of the Capital Beltway near the Saint Barnabas Road exit in Prince George's County. While the truck was not overweight, the driver picked a spot where the shoulder gave way under the weight of his truck, which rolled on its side. When attempts were made to pull the truck up, the trailer ruptured and tons of trash fell out on the ground.
While there is an ongoing debate about the importation of trash, the issue for Maryland is that the state is the principal transportation route to the landfills of Virginia. Overweight waste trucks constitute a threat to infrastructure (roads, water mains, sewer pipes, etc.) of many Maryland communities as trucks seek alternative routes to Virginia's landfills. Accidents involving waste vehicles constitute a threat to Maryland's environment. The states in the Mid-Atlantic region will continue to meet to discuss ways to bring balance to the waste marketplace in this region.
Officials who participated in this operation agree that other such operations will be conducted in the future.