Visitor tries to recycle feces, prompts Athens facility to shut - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Visitor tries to recycle feces, prompts Athens facility to shut down

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) - Some people in McMinn County are having a tough time finding a place to recycle after someone intentionally recycled bags of human feces at the Athens Recycling Center.

The city's facility has been closed all week. But this isn't the first time the facility has been forced to shut down. The exact same thing happened in May, prompting security cameras to get installed on the premises.

"One of our... visitors decided not to recycle, but to bring us bags of human feces," said Athens Public Works Director Shawn Lindsey.

That's why a sign that reads "Closed Until Further Notice" is posted outside recycling center. The filthy drop-off that occurred sometime over the weekend has kept the gate closed all week.

But Lindsey points out that it's clearly marked what someone can and can't recycle.

"You don't even have to be able to read to be able to understand what we do here," he said.

Lindsey explained that someone intentionally contaminated the plastics bin over the weekend. He said it ruined a whole load at RockTenn, the packaging center where the bins are delivered next. The city will likely get fined because of it, he said.

"It actually got a lot of people sick. It got a lot of equipment dirty that had to be sanitized," said Lindsey.

In the meantime, residents are recycling at the county landfill.

"Why would anyone do that?" asked Pat Armstrong, who was dropping off piles of paper to recycle.

"We don't need our landfills all filled up with junk that could be recycled," said Joy Key, who normally takes her cans and bottles to the city's facility.

"It's just hard to believe that people are that uncaring about other people," Key said. "They're punishing everybody else by what they're doing."

There will be new rules when the recycle center reopens next week. The new stipulations include no more bags to be allowed in the bins, said Lindsey.

"I don't want an employee having to rip these bags open and create a litter problem," he said. "If there is a contaminant, I don't want them to get it on themselves."

"We don't know who it was or why they would choose to do that. If we ever find the person, they'll be prosecuted to the nth degree of the law, I'll tell you that," said Lindsey.

The Athens Recycling Center will open again on Monday with new rules and shorter hours. The facility will be open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Public Works Department will also have an employee on-site during business hours to monitor the drop-offs.
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