Canaries in a coal mine | RecordCourier.com

Canaries in a coal mine

You couldn't have asked for a better training scenario than the real-life incident on Tuesday.

It's not that strange for transfer stations to be the source of a hazardous materials call.

People back up their vehicles to the station and are pretty much on the honor system not to dump something toxic on the floor.

And it's not like someone is sifting through what the garbage trucks around the county are picking up to make sure it's all copacetic.

When the frontload hit whatever it hit, the fumes prompted immediate casualties among the transfer station's avian inhabitants. Fortunately these canaries in a coal mine alerted the staff in time to keep a truck, believed to be carrying the toxins, from leaving the county.

In the process of stopping the truck, authorities also had to stop traffic along Highway 395 for a couple of hours. Motorists detoured through the neighborhoods in Indian Hills while firefighters determined the truck was safe to travel back to the transfer station, with an NHP escort.

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While there was some inconvenience, a lot of things went right on Tuesday. The west wind kept any potential airborne toxin from more populated areas. We certainly hope that whatever took out the dump ducks won't have any long-term effects on the humans involved.

Tuesday's adventure is an excellent reminder to please be mindful of what you put in your trash. Next time we might not be so lucky.