Letter To The Editor: Bear-proof Dumpsters Are Serious Hazard To Children And Others And Should Be Fixed

Los Alamos

To County Council,

A number of people have complained about the difficulty of using the new bear-proof dumpsters. The lids are heavy and about 5 feet above the ground, so shorter and not-so-strong people have difficulty operating the latches and lifting the lid. In my neighborhood you see a number of these with the lids left open by thoughtful neighbors so such people can deposit their trash, defeating the purpose. But that’s not the real problem. These things pose a serious deadly hazard and need to be retrofitted to remove the hazard.

 A child or dumpster-diving adult (this is real) who manages to get into the dumpster will be trapped if the door closes behind. The door has no way to open it from inside except by carefully manipulating the latch which is very difficult to do because access to the latch is blocked by a flange. With no light inside even a clever person would have great difficulty figuring out how the latch works and probably couldn’t access it to operate it against the strong spring it even if they could figure it out. The larger lid of the dumpster, which opens when a truck empties the dumpster, cannot be opened from the inside because it is latched by a fully enclosed mechanism that can only be operated from the outside by the truck that empties the dumpster.

There does not appear to be any ventilation except possible leakage around the closely fitted doors, so suffocation may be possible for anyone trapped inside.

I think these represent a hazard akin to the problem once posed by abandoned refrigerators. The county and the manufacturer as well would be liable for posting these hazardous death traps. I would suggest immediate action to get the manufacturer to develop an escape mechanism that could be found in the dark and operated by a child, and provide some ventilation, before a tragedy occurs.


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