City Discovers New Way to Deal with Contaminated Refuse
The Richmond Register
Sunday, October 30, 2011
RICHMOND, VA - The city of Richmond has a new tool in the fight
against bed bugs - a "thumb."
City commissioners in March discussed options for stopping having
city employees pick up furniture and other refuse from city
streets, citing bed bug infestations as one of the reasons.
No ordinance has been passed, and city employees still pick up
discarded furniture, but now they do it hands-free, said Jimmy
Howard, interim city manager.
The city purchased a "thumb" to place on the backhoe used for
pick-ups, he said.
"(The thumb) allows the backhoe to be almost like a hand," Howard
said. "It can reach down and pick up things."
The city commission decided on this measure after discussions at a
March work session left doubts as to the feasibility of using
chemicals to kill the bugs.
Joe Lillis, codes enforcement director for the city, told
commissioners at that work session that he spoke with an
exterminator who said it has taken him three treatments to kill bed
The exterminator told Lillis about a product the city could
purchase, which the codes enforcement director said costs about $50
It would require at least a week for the entire treatment process,
Commissioner Jason Morgan said at the work session that the city
had no choice but to try to exterminate the bugs if they were
causing problems for neighbors of those who put out infested
furniture, but city attorney Garrett Fowles said he was unsure
whether the use of chemicals would be legal.
"I question whether a city employee can legally go out on the side
of the road and start hosing down furniture (with chemicals)," he
said. "Some people might not take kindly to city employees running
around spraying chemicals."
The "thumb" provides a chemical-free way to avoid having city
employees contaminated, Howard said. Its cost was about
Though no ordinance dealing with refuse pick-up has passed in
Richmond, a Northern Kentucky city is considering passing an
ordinance that would require any furniture or bedding materials put
out to be completely wrapped in plastic. The Ludlow City Council
plans to vote on the measure next month, according to the
Ludlow city officials told the AP that other nearby cities had
passed similar measures.
Wrapping the items in plastic will not kill the bugs, according to
information from the UK Cooperative Extension Service, but will
prevent them spreading while en route to the dump.
Richmond city crews pick up about 80 cubic yards of refuse daily,
said Stacey Curtis, the city's public works director, at an April
city commission meeting.