Hazardous materials reportedly caused a garbage truck fire on Washington Waterloo Road Wednesday morning — sending the two occupants of the vehicle to Fayette County Memorial Hospital for precautionary reasons.
Shortly after 8 a.m., the Rumpke truck driver saw flames coming from inside his rear load garbage truck and took immediate action, according to a Rumpke press release. He pulled into the nearest open and vacant lot, 3841 Washington Waterloo Road, and unloaded the cab onto a gravel roadway.
The Washington C.H. Fire Department arrived on scene and attempted to extinguish the fire, however, water reignited the fire due to fumitoxins, containing aluminum phosphide, that were mixed into the trash. Fumitoxins are used for pest control, according to Fayette County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Melissa Havens.
The Rumpke driver and passenger servicing the area were both taken by Fayette County EMS to Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) for precautionary measures. FCMH set up a small tent and contamination area where the two individuals entered.
“Their clothing could have been contaminated by the substance,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. “They themselves weren’t contaminated, but the clothing was the issue.”
Environmental remediation efforts were put into place, and the contaminants were disposed of properly in accordance with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, according to Rumpke. The site was cleared by about 3:50 p.m.
“This type of situation is more typical than you would think when it comes to garbage trucks picking up trash,” said Havens. “It’s one of those situations that can be dangerous, so we take every precaution that we can.”
Randy Broadright, Rumpke safety manager, thanked the first responders, the fire department and EMA, for their swift response and assistance.
“We stress the importance of proper disposal of hazardous items due to these types of scenarios,” Broadright said. “Safety is a top priority for us and we want to ensure that our employees, customers and communities are always safe. We urge the public to think twice before disposing of hazardous items in their trash containers. It is imperative for safety and environmental reasons.”
Rumpke maintains a list of items that should not be included in the trash on its website, www.rumpke.com. Additionally, a list of unacceptable items can be found on the back of Rumpke invoices.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica