The Edwards Agency

Local News

Biohazard trailer parked on street causes concern, but poses no danger

biohazard trailer by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Police responded to a call last week from two area businesses alarmed by the smell and presence of a biohazard trailer parked on 142nd Avenue NE, and while there was a concern after an incident a few years ago, this incident was a non-event.
   The trailer in question, owned by BFI Medical Waste Systems, a $6 billion nationwide medical waste and garbage company, was filled with empty and sanitized rubber tubs and containers (used to transport biohazard materials) on their way back to the Woodinville warehouse, said Sandra Waalk, BFI's safety and compliance manager.
   "The drivers are not allowed to leave full vehicles anywhere near the street," Waalk said.
   She said the full trucks transport regulated medical waste from doctors, dentists and veterinarian offices and hospitals. These trucks are brought into their locked yard, where two to four tons are off-loaded each day into larger trucks bound for Ferndale for incineration.
   Waalk said the reported smell could have been the disinfectants used to clean and sanitize the rubber tubs and containers used for transporting the waste.
   In 1993, an unlocked and open trailer was found parked on the street within the business park. The police were contacted, who turned it over to the Department of Health. Their investigation revealed no compliance problems, though BFI amended its internal policy to have no more on-street parking for full vehicles.
   Occasionally, drivers leave one trailer on the road a few blocks from the company's warehouse, as they did July 16, for a short period of time, while the driver backs another trailer into BFI's lot, as double-long trailers are "impossible" to back onto their site.
   The empty trailer left on 142nd Avenue NE last week was moved within 30 minutes, and was gone before police arrived.
   As a courtesy to neighboring businesses, BFI is tentatively planning to use a different location to temporarily park their empty biohazard-labeled trailers.
   Waalk says BFI has been at the Woodinville location since November 1992 and has never had any regulatory or compliance problems.
   "The company as a whole is very safety and compliance oriented," Waalk said.