The sudden closure Monday of Raccoon Refuse Garbage Services Inc. has left individuals and multiple area municipalities scrambling for a replacement — and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating.
Raccoon Refuse, based in Mill Village, notified its municipal customers in northwestern Pennsylvania of the suspension Monday morning via email.
Local communities affected include the neighborhoods of Linesville and Cambridge Springs and the town of Titusville in Crawford County, as well as the Union City neighborhood of Erie County. All have active contracts with Raccoon, but are now left holding the trash bag until they find replacement companies.
Meanwhile, investigators from the DEP’s Northwest Regional Office in Pennsylvania are to investigate reports of trash piling up at the Raccoon Refuse transfer station on Old Route 77 outside Spartansburg, DEP spokesman Thomas Decker confirmed to The Meadville Tribune.
“We are following up on a complaint we received on Friday,” Decker said Monday. “We’ll send people out tomorrow to see if there are any big piles of trash.”
The waste transfer station should be a collection point before the garbage is moved to the landfill.
“It shouldn’t stay — it should move on,” Decker said. “We will investigate and see if we need to take further action.”
The whole situation is unpleasant for both the residents and the rulers.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be taken,” Linesville resident Shelby Crider told the Tribune.
The trash picked up by Raccoon was done Friday in the Linesville neighborhood, Crider said. Raccoon did not lift as required on Friday and was last lifted on August 5th.
“It’s disappointing. They really haven’t been doing what’s in their contract,” Crider said of the Raccoon. “All of a sudden they stopped picking up and bam! They are ready.
On the official Lanesville Facebook page, Lanesville City Council announced that it is taking urgent action to place large waste containers in the borough’s garage, off Lockhart Alley, within the next few days. Residents will need to take trash to the site when the containers arrive.
“Otherwise, neighborhood officials will pick up trash until a new company is hired.” We apologize for the inconvenience and ask for your understanding,” the post said.
Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting today at 6:00 pm at the borough office due to the closure of Raccoon Refuse.
“Given this lack of waiver service as a result, there is a clear and present danger to life or property and the City Council must take immediate action,” according to a notice Jeff Millin, the borough’s attorney, sent to the Tribune.
All calls to Raccoon’s various office numbers were met with a recorded message saying there was no one in the offices to answer and the caller had to leave their name and number. However, the voicemail box was full and no message could be left.
Attempts by the Tribune to directly contact Ernest Sell of Mill Village, the owner of Raccoon Refuse, were also unsuccessful.
“I’m trying to get another carrier (arranged) this afternoon,” Sandra Pude, Cambridge Springs’ neighborhood manager, said Monday.
Cambridge Springs is in the midst of a five-year deal with Raccoon that began in January 2020.
“We picked ours up on Thursday and they got about 99 percent of them,” Pude said of the latest Raccoon pickup through the neighborhood. “They missed a few side streets because they had new drivers.”
The city of Titusville is also struggling to remove trash due to Raccoon’s closing.
The Titusville City Council approved a three-year contract with Raccoon Refuse that began in July 2021 — and had options for a total of five years, Mayor John Crouch told the Tribune.
A notice sent Monday afternoon by Neil Fratus, Titusville’s city manager, said the city is working to arrange trash pickup and asked for patience while it works to correct the situation.
For Titusville residents whose trash was not collected last week, city workers will begin collection at 7 a.m. today, the notice said.
“For now, city crews will pick up on your normal pick-up day, but please note that trash and recycling will not be picked up separately, nor will there be bulk collection due to staffing and equipment limitations,” the notice said.
Garbage pickup in Titusville takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays; which day depends on where the residence is located.
In Erie County’s Union City neighborhood, Raccoon’s Monday closing became even more of a problem.
Collection takes place on Tuesdays and trash and recyclables are placed at the curb on Monday evenings.
On its Facebook page late Monday morning, the borough asked residents not to place trash on the curb at that time, or to remove it if it had already been placed.
Union City is trying to find emergency services until the contract is re-signed. “As soon as the services are provided, we will notify you of the date of receipt,” the notice read.