Editor's Note: This story has been updated with information from Republic Services.
- Normal collections in a Fremont, CA neighborhood quickly escalated into an emergency situation last week after a driver for Allied Waste of Alameda County, a subsidiary of Republic Services, placed a load containing pool chemicals into the back of his truck. The load started releasing large amounts of chemical smoke, according to SFGate.
- The driver was hospitalized after complaining of difficulty breathing and has since been released. Local residents were asked to shelter in place and close their windows. Motorists were also advised to avoid the area.
- It took the Fremont Fire Department about two hours to clean the site and conduct tests to determine that air quality was safe. Officials have yet to release more information on the chemical smoke's source.
These types of unexpected hazards are a big reason that waste collection remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. While companies and trade associations continue to place a major emphasis on safety, workers are still faced with situations like this one that they can do little to avoid.
FFD at 34309 Newton Ct. Chemical reaction when Waste Republic pick up from this location. Driver taken to Hospital pic.twitter.com/9NWpaOZZ14— Fremont Fire Dept. (@FremontFire) August 12, 2016
Public education efforts on disposal of potentially dangerous material is a good step, as seen the Mid Michigan Waste Authority's "Be Smart with Sharps" campaign around proper needle disposal. Though as seen in San Antonio last year, when the city had to tell residents to stop putting dirty diapers in their recycling bins, sometimes bad disposal choices come down to a lack of common sense. This type of behavior further proves many people's limited understanding about the challenges of waste collection and may discourage new drivers from applying at a time when the industry needs them more than ever.