Athens Trash Truck Leaking Dirty Fluid on WeHo Streets

A trash pickup truck from Athens Services is leaking liquid waste on the streets of West Hollywood.

Adam LaSalle, who lives on Cynthia Street near its intersection with San Vicente Boulevard, noticed the waste dripping onto the street while walking his dog one day this Fall. Despite several complaints from LaSalle and some street cleaning by Athens, LaSalle told WEHOville that he continues to see spills. LaSalle said they especially concern him because of the risk they pose to the health of his dog.

LaSalle first reported the spill to City Councilmember John Duran on Sept 2 and got a response from Matthew Magener of the city’s Public Works Department, who alerted Athens to the issue.

Johnnie Perkins, an executive vice president at Athens, told LaSalle on Sept. 6 that the problem was an issue with truck number 532, which would be removed from service and fixed, and that Athens would clean the northeast and northwest corners of San Vicente and Cynthia. But six days later, on Sept 12, LaSalle saw truck number 532 again spilling contaminated fluid at that intersection and also at Vista Grande and Hilldale. The pressure washers promised by Athens never came, he said.

LaSalle said that Perkins told him Athens already had repaired and cleaned the truck and would do it again and also would wash the street on Sept. 16. Athens supplied LaSalle with an invoice from GI Services, a street cleaning company, that showed it had done cleaning at the Cynthia and San Vicente intersection and that it came back later to clean up a spill on San Vicente near the Pacific Design Center.

Fluid from an Athens trash truck on Palm at Cynthia. (Photo by Adam LaSalle).
Fluid from an Athens trash truck on Palm at Cynthia. (Photo by Adam LaSalle).

But LaSalle said GI Services appeared to have cleaned only one of the three soiled areas — at the northwest corner of North San Vicente Boulevard and Cynthia Street. The northeast corner of that intersection and the soiled area at Vista Grande and Hilldale apparently weren’t cleaned.

Then last week LaSalle captured on video a stream of liquid waste coming from the trash truck and found fresh spills in two new areas, evidence that the problem continues. The video, posted above, shows the fluid streaming from the truck as it turns a corner.

“Accidents happen – I realize that,” LaSalle said in an email to WEHOville. “However, what has been particularly disturbing has been the negligence of West Hollywood city officials and Athens Services in fully resolving this matter, and in a timely manner. More than two weeks passed after the incident was first reported, while the spills of contaminated fluid remained as cars continued to drive over and people continued to walk through with their bare-foot dogs unknowingly spreading the bacteria into their homes.

“It was not until the morning after the Oscars, which were held at the Pacific Design Center, that GI Services LLC performed pressure washing not only to one of the spill locations, but also to the east side of North San Vicente Boulevard outside of the Pacific Design Center, which was completely unrelated, as if to kill two birds with one stone.

“The contaminated spill area that GI Services LLC did pressure wash also did not appear to thoroughly remove the stain, while the other two affected areas were not reported to have been cleaned at all. To make matters worse, Athens Services truck number 532 was back in service in what seemed like no time, and in less than two months later, already spilling gallons of contaminated fluid back onto the residential streets of Norma Triangle, North San Vicente Boulevard and East Cynthia Street.”

Sharon Perlstein, West Hollywood’s city engineer, said the city is responding to LaSalle’s video, which it received several days ago. She said that most of Athens’ trucks in West Hollywood are relatively new, so it isn’t a vehicle issue.  Instead it’s a matter of fluid from wet garbage or trash spilling from a reservoir under each truck that is supposed to capture it.

“We’re in the process now asking Athens to deal with their fleet to make sure they have the proper procedures in place to monitor those reservoirs,” Perlstein said.  “It’s not supposed to spill out. It’s a violation of our regulations.”

She said the fluid isn’t seriously harmful like something that is radioactive. But Perlstein noted that it might contain bacteria.

Such leaks have sparked complaints for years by residents in other communities. Some residents have expressed concerns about whether the leaked fluid could be dangerous. Food Poison Journal, a website that provides information about food poisoning, notes that a Cleveland television station “collected samples of fluids spilling from garbage trucks in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights and Brooklyn and had them tested. In addition to listeria, Accra Labs found very high levels of bacteria and low levels of salmonella.” Food Poison Journal is associated with a law firm that represents clients in personal injury suits related to food poisoning.


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Julian3000
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Julian3000

Really? Is this a real problem? The picture taken showing “leaked fluid” looks exatly like street sweeping just went by. Also, how exactly is your dog gonna get sick? the asphalt is already covered in car fluid and oil…

Waste Not
Guest
Waste Not

@Kab1200: lush=no bid contract. The horse & carriage was a vaguely humorous remark. Please lighten up about the humorous and get serious about seriousity.

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

They have put it out to bid before. Anyway, no one would think you were being humorous, and you missed how I reused your words, so you lighten up! Haha

Waste Not
Guest
Waste Not

With the ludicrously lush contract Athens received they should be offering white glove concierge trash services. Long ago there were sweepers following the horses and carriages in Manhattan keeping the streets clean and free of horse waste. Athens might emulate that idea.

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

It’s a lush contract? Are you an expert in trash service contracts? No one is addressing the people who come and rummage through the trash after the bins and cans are pulled out in the street. And how about people stop throwing away cans and bottles full of liquids. It’s trash people, and it gets messy sometimes. And the horse analogy was ludicrous, and def not lush.

fine7760
Guest

Coby, if that’s the case the trucks would have to be emptied, trash sorted and the same trucks reloaded with trash destined for the City of Los Angeles Lopez Cyn. Landfill. What they promise and what they actually do seems to be different.

JJ
Guest
JJ

They also leave any trash that might have fallen out of any given trash can and onto the street. (or overflow trash).

Coby
Guest
Coby

@fine7760 – Athens does not recycle ALL trash. They do however pull all recyclable material out of trash bins and recycle what can be recycled.

Alison
Guest
Alison

Athens has sent letters to all the tenants in my apartment building about construction materials and other materials in our trash bins. It isn’t the tenants who are doing construction! They have threatened ceasing trash pick-up if it continues. Why are they sending this to tenants? They should be sending this to the owners of the building (who would ignore it anyway).

This is what happens when contracts are given without competitive bidding.

fine7760
Guest

Athens is supposed to recyle all are trash and garbage but I find it odd that they park many of their fleet on Lopez Cyn Road approx. one mile north of the Los Angeles City Landfill on the same road.

In addition I often see liquid flowing from their containers which are staged in mass several times per week on Olive Dr. just north of Santa Monica Bl.