Thursday, March 26, 2009

Natural Gas Garbage Trucks for Dallas Advocated

03:08 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 25, 2009


DALLAS - They cut costs and emissions but there's a trade off.

They also can't be used on nearly half the pick-up routes.

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday decides whether to spend nearly $4 million to buy the first natural gas-powered garbage trucks for the city.

Sanitation Services runs about 200 garbage trucks - all of them diesel - but now wants to start replacing some of them with natural gas trucks.

The garbage pick-up business is a dirty business, made dirtier by the diesel trucks Dallas uses.

But the city wants garbage trucks to go green and buy 26 natural gas trucks.

"They are going to emit 80 percent less emissions than the diesel counterparts," said Mary Nix from Sanitation Services.

San Antonio bought 30 of the trucks and put them on the streets in January.

With a state clean air grant and lower fuel costs, the total cost for natural gas garbage trucks is $1.1 million less than diesel over the seven years they're used.

But going green does not mean problems gone.

"These trucks will not be able to be used in many of the alleys that we do collection pick-up," Nix added.

Trucks rumbling through alleys snag tree limbs, utility lines and building overhangs.

The natural gas trucks are about two feet taller than the diesel trucks because the fuel tank is on top.
So the gas trucks will be restricted to street pick up only.

The city believes the trade off is worth it and wants to buy up to 40 gas trucks.

But it knows there could be a problem if gas trucks ever need to fill in alley routes, which is 45 percent of all pick-up, for broken down diesel trucks.

"It's certainly possible but we will have to evaluate our interest in buying any more than the 40 trucks based on well we'll be able to deploy them," said Nix.

If the city council wanted most of the garbage truck fleet to go green, it would need to decide how to clear out alleys and keep them clear or move all pick-up to the street.


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