Garbage disposal ban ditched

April 8, 2008 6:44:56 PM PDT
Raleigh's ban on garbage disposals is going down the drain. A city council committee lead by Charles Meeker voted 4-0 Tuesday morning that the controversial ban, enacted last month, be lifted.

"I think that the issue of a ban right now is a rush to judgment, and we need to reconsider it," council member James West says.

Council members heard from those who supported and those who opposed the ban before making their decision. The city's Public Utilities Director, Dale Crisp, argued that food scraps sent down the drain contribute to sewer overflows, which cost the city tens of thousands dollars in state fines and also damage the city's sewer system. There were 48 overflows citywide in 2007.

But when pressed for data proving that point by council members, Crisp admitted he didn't have much research.

"I'm not aware of any research that's been done on this specifically here in North Carolina," says Public Utilities Director Dale Crisp. "Our research has been the true-life experience of maintaining and operating the (sewer) system."

Crisp handed out two jars of congealed grease to make his point; the substance was scraped away from actual sewer overflows in Raleigh within the last year.

Several disposal advocates from out of state attended the meeting in the hopes of getting the ban overturned. A company that manufactures garbage disposals brought in a scientist from Purdue University in Indiana.

The scientist, Kevin Keener, recently completed a study of the material which clogs sewer lines -- material similar to what Crisp showed in the jars he brought. Keener argued that what clogs sewer lines consisted more of fats, oils and greases than food particles. "There was nothing in these that we identified as being particles of ground meat, ground vegetable material or anything like that," Keener said.

Mayor Charles Meeker, who firmly backed the ban after its passage even after a public outcry against it, made the motion to lift the ban. "When the citizens express concern on something, the council is willing to take a second look," Meeker said.

The full city council will have to vote to lift the ban next week; it is expected to pass easily. At least three other council members not in attendance at today's committee meeting have previously told Eyewitness News they are in favor of reversing the ban.


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