New York City Garbage Hauler Required to Halt Operations
Sanitation Salvage, one of the New York City’s largest trash haulers, was ordered to suspend its operations because it poses “an imminent danger to life and property,” according to the agency overseeing the matter, The Business Integrity Commission (BIC). Sanitation Salvage trucks were responsible for the deaths of two men between November 2017 and April 2018, and those deaths prompted the action against the company. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, “This company has demonstrated time and time again that they value profit over the lives of New Yorkers and the well-being of their workers. We are immediately suspending this company’s license following a pattern of unsafe practices.”
BIC released a five-page report that said the company cannot continue its daily operations until it has completed a full audit. Michael Johnston, a spokesperson for Sanitation Salvage, responded, “Bowing to political pressure, the city rushed to judgment based on an incomplete and distorted factual record…Sanitation Salvage will pursue all legal remedies, as necessary, to reverse this gross abuse of government authority and violation of Sanitation Salvage’s rights as a longtime licensee in good standing.”
Contrary to its supposed “good standing” status, the trash hauler has a lengthy record of labor and safety violations. One incident occurred as recently as August 8 in which an unlicensed driver crashed a garbage truck. The driver involved in the first of Sanitation Salvage’s fatal accidents told authorities he had killed a homeless man in the Bronx who jumped aboard the moving truck. However, an investigation into the matter revealed the man was actually 21-year-old Mouctar Diallo who was an off-the-books employee of the company killed while doing his job.
The same driver was involved in a second accident in which 72-year-old Leo Clarke was killed in April while crossing the street with a cane. BIC has barred the driver from the industry, stating he “lacked good character, honesty, and integrity.”
Sanitation Salvage further defended its position, stating: “Our operation is predicated upon three important principles: 1) safety, first and foremost; 2) fulfilling a crucial need for our customers and the city; and 3) being a good neighbor. A complete review of our record and operation will show that we live by these principles and a revocation of our ability to do business is unwarranted.” Johnston added, “The city’s decision to suspend the license of Sanitation Salvage prior to the conclusion of its investigation and without any prior notice or opportunity to be heard is both unlawful and misguided.”
BIC, however, found the trucks had also been involved in 58 collisions since March 2016. Fourteen of those 58 collisions involved drivers whose identities Sanitation Salvage had failed to disclose to the agency even though it is legally required to do so every time an accident occurs during its normal business operations. And, in August, on two occasions, the company was caught with unlicensed helpers driving its trucks.
In its order, the agency cited inspections by the New York State Department of Transportation which found the Sanitation Salvage was operating unsafe trucks and requiring employees to work excessive hours. The actions were known to the company and unjustifiable.