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Trash smasher put out to pasture at landfill.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

Work space: a 200-foot-by-75-foot concrete pit filled with trash.

Job: Move back and forth in the pit, mashing the garbage that thousands of people toss in.

Co-workers: None, except a driver skilled at maneuvering you on the unstable, shifting trash.

Job hazards: Plastic and other debris clogging your treads and other moving parts.

It's tough to be Lane County's "waste handler crawler tractor" at the Glenwood transfer station.

But after five years or so, there's a reward: light duty, sunshine and fresh breezes at the Short Mountain Landfill.

In its periodic rotation and replacement of trash tractors - the county has two, one at Glenwood and one at the landfill - the Glenwood machine is being moved to less demanding work at the landfill, the old landfill machine will be turned back to the equipment dealer, and the county will buy a new tractor for the Glenwood pit.

After grueling work at the Glenwood site, "We kind of put it out to pasture" at the landfill, said Jeff Bishop, waste management superintendent.

The tractor takes a licking at the pit because it constantly moves back and forth in stops and starts, "and there's lots of things that get stuck up in the tracks and the drive assemblies," Bishop said.

Residents and businesses drop about 100,000 tons of trash at the Glenwood pit each year, Bishop said.

The tractor's first job is to push and scrape garbage away from the pit walls, ensuring that it doesn't pile up where folks push it in, he said.

Job No. 2 is using the tractor's treads and big blade to tear and mash the garbage.

This "de-processing" makes it easier to pack full loads into trash trailers for hauling to the landfill. And, once at the landfill, the crushed-up garbage is useful and more versatile than less-processed garbage that is hauled straight to the landfill by garbage collection companies, Bishop said.

The mashed stuff from Glenwood fills in voids, "helps with compaction and structural stability," and aids in contouring the landfill's surface, Bishop said.

A new Caterpillar-brand garbage tractor weighs 83,000 pounds and will cost $458,934 from Peterson Machinery Co. As part of the deal, the county trades in the oldest of its two garbage tractors, which the county bought in 2007.

That old tractor will be rebuilt and put up for resale, Bishop said.

It takes a journeyman-level operator to run the equipment because the garbage surface is unstable and the dumped materials are cumbersome, he said.

The money for the new tractor comes from the waste management division, which is funded entirely by user fees.
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Title Annotation:Local News; A new machine will take over for the county's waste handler at the Glenwood transfer station
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 2, 2012
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