A reader asks: Why do all of the Dumpsters in the county belong to the County?

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VINEMONT – A while back, The Tribune got a question from a contractor and asbestos removal specialist who ran into trouble when he called his regular Dumpster supplier for a job in Vinemont.  The supplier told him that the only place to rent Dumpsters in Cullman County is from the Cullman County Sanitation Department.  He then contacted The Tribune with a request to look into the matter, and a complaint: “What appears to be happening is our local governing officials are enforcing a monopoly for themselves.”

Blount Hauling, a WCA Waste Corporation affiliate located in Trafford, supported at least part of our reader’s concern.  A source at the company’s office told us that they had received a letter from the Cullman County Sanitation Department stating that, by regulation, contractors in the area were to use its Dumpsters, and that outside suppliers placing Dumpsters in Cullman County would be subject to fines and potential lawsuits.  That source also described the situation as a monopoly.

On our first call to the Cullman County Commission office, a source there confirmed that a regulation did exist giving the Sanitation Department control of all Dumpster rentals, and that fines and suits were potential penalties for violation.  After a subsequent call, we reached Commissioner Garry Marchman, who located and presented to us Resolution 2000-16 from January 2000.  That resolution stated that:

“…it is in the best interest and welfare of Cullman County and its citizens that every person, household, business, industry or property generating solid wastes, garbage or ash as defined in the Solid Wastes Disposal Act participate in and subscribe to the Cullman County collection services unless granted a Certificate of Exception…”

The resolution did allow for businesses and residents, on a case-by-case basis, to apply for exemption from the resolution.  It did not define specific terms under which one would be granted, but did exempt hazardous waste from the regulation.

To find out the specific reasons behind this lockout of commercial waste handlers, we were referred to James Rollo, manager of the Cullman County Sanitation Department.  Rollo explained that the behavior of waste handling companies toward customers at remote locations out in the county was the primary cause.

“There used to be commercial waste companies here,” said Rollo, “but they were cherry-picking accounts, and people out in the middle of nowhere weren’t getting service at all.  We had to take care of them ourselves; so we decided that if we were going to have to get the ‘bad ones,’ we were going to get them all.”

Rollo explained that, under sanitation department control, all customers pay the same rate for services, regardless of who they are or where they are located in the county.  He also noted that the franchising of a particular business is not uncommon for county governments.

Asked if the old asbestos siding handled by our reader qualified for special consideration as a hazardous material, Rollo responded that most asbestos is not considered a hazardous material, but instead a “special material.”  It requires particular methods of handling, and must be deposited in particular locations in a landfill, but both the County Sanitation Department and county landfill take the material.

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