Any one here go to what is probably the last "Woodstock" music festival ever? The infamous Woodstock 99?
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Well it's pretty much been lost to the dust bin of history, but I do love disaster stuff and this was just one big man made disaster of epic proportions.
The problem first and foremost was you had a population of almost the entire City of Cleveland, Ohio piled into a closed up Air Force base in Rome, New York and a good portion of those people were on their worst behavior and living in tents outside for 3 days in the extreme 100 degree heat with out adequate facilities.
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And I am not even going to get into the cultural implications of trying to revive the 30th anniversary of the original Woodstock. That's an entirely different story.
But what you had was one of the biggest solid waste hauling and portable toilet cleaning disasters in history. Most of the problems with Woodstock were the fault of the event organizers, not so much the vendors it was really festival management that was the problem, in the year 2000 Waste 360 magazine which is a waste industry trade rag did an autopsy of the Woodstock 99 as a waste collection nightmare.
So what happened was the concert promoters who put on Woodstock 1969 and Woodstock 1994 pretty much got kind of lucky, sure there were problems with both of those concerts, but for the most part nothing really blew back to to much on the city or state as far as stuff goes, but Woodstock 1999 was an entirely different animal.
For one the people who put these things on at least the group that did the Woodstocks, they don't know anything about trucking, or managing a city and city infrastructure. All they know is how to get a hold of music booking acts and negotiating to get them up on stage, the rest of it, as far as the fanatics that go to see these acts and where they are going to live for 3 days and all the things that go along with they really have no idea and really at the end of the day don't care. They figure the luck would never run out.
However 1999 was a much different time and circumstance than the original show in 1969. The culture was not the same and bands like Limp Bizket aren't really in the business of inspiring Peace and Harmony. The late 1990s was not exactly the era of "Me Too" and Peace and Harmony, it was a time of frat boy rock and nu metal that was all about breaking stuff and you know getting all the aggression out.
Anyhow so 250,000-300,000 people all crammed into an old Air Force base and it's 100 degrees and you have security telling all the people you can't bring in your own food and water, you may have some issues. So you have to think, 300,000 people are going to need toilets and of course they are going to produce garbage. So of course this is something the original event planners know nothing about. So they went to the City of Rome New York, which told them okay you can have your event because like we need money, but we do need to talk to the proper health authorities though and get a game plan going.
So the game plan for the the portable toilets was pretty much just hire porter potty companies and have them service the portable toilets 3 times a day, which by the way that never happened. I think they said all in all the event hired 6 portable toilet companies to do the sewage waste, and supposedly they were supposed to pump out all the portable toilets 3xs a day, of course that never happened, because the porter potty companies really couldn't get to the porter potties and while nobody is talking about this, they didn't have enough porter potties and probably didn't have enough technicians and service trucks to clean up that mess, so essentially the porter potty companies were over ran, probably needed to call in every septic truck company in the Tri county area to keep all that serviced.
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The City of Rome, New York expected that by Thursday or Friday morning the portable toilet collection/ septic trucks would be backing up and connecting to the dump intake pipe at the City's Sewage Treatment Plant, but when that didn't happen, the Public Works department of Rome, New York got very concerned. The Public Works commissioner said they were not seeing the quantities that they expected and wanted to see which meant if it wasn't being trucked from the site to the sewage treatment plant, then it was all over at the concert site and that wasn't good.
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On the solid waste end things were not much better. The event for the solid waste hauling was a mash up of public private partnerships basically Waste Management was in charge of the planning and consulting for the solid waste removal of the event.
Clifton Property Services of Syracuse, New York was the company that was hired to actually empty the trash cans at the event and collect the actual bagged waste. The primary trash can of choice was the 55 gallon metal drum with a 55 gallon trash bag.
Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority was in charge of over seeing the plan and making sure it all fit together, and also was the group running the transfer station where all the solid waste would be going. The one nice thing was the event was only 1 mile from the county transfer station so it wasn't a far drive to get rid of solid waste however that's where it pretty much stopped. Anyhow I'll make another post this is enough to get started on.
Woodstock '99 one of the greatest garbage disasters of all time
Part II Container Equipment
So after the county solid waste authority went back and fourth with the concert promoters they all agreed on 1200 tons of garbage to be collected. So they decided the best way to handle that would be, (10) 35 Cubic Yard Trash Compactors, (27) 8 Cubic Yard front load dumpsters (21) open top roll offs which is the weak link and ended up being the weak link in my opinion.
The main garbage cans were 3000 55 gallon barrels and wax corrugated boxes.
They had (4) roll off dumpster trucks to switch out the compactors and roll off dumpsters drive them to the transfer station and they had (1) front load garbage truck to service the 8 cubic yard dumpsters.
The 8 yard dumpsters were used by the catering and food areas to the vendors, same with the trash compactors. That wasn't so much a problem and went rather smooth.
It was the 55 gallon drums that were literally drummed on. The problem was for one, security at the event was far from good, the event security it's self was awful and the state police detail assigned to the event also was kind of lousy and the commander of the state police detail who was assigned to that event was charged with all kinds of misconduct and ended up being drug in front of the top brass at state police headquarters in Albany and got in all kinds of hot water with the bosses there. So you had lousy security and bad management. The plan was that during the day the people would leave the camp site and go to see the bands and the property services company could come in and clean up. That never happened people just hung out everywhere and the porter potty companies and the trash clean up people couldn't get in and work. There were some down times where they had between 4am-9am to clean up the main concert area because there were no scheduled acts at that time, but the problem with that was they were using open top dumpsters and trash bags. It was to much manual labor and way to much work load to throw all those garbage bags into the open top dumpsters.
I had thought and I'm no expert, but I'll play one on the internet, why would you open top dumpsters? Your running a huge city here. How do cities collect garbage? That's right they use packer trucks, not open top dumpsters.
A much better way of handling this would have been to use the satellite truck method, which is quick efficient and way faster then trying to hand throw bags of garbage into a huge open top dumpster.
Photo Rob Jamieson
To me park a 25-30 yard packer garbage truck where you were going to drop a roll off dumpster and then get 6-7 of those garbage scooters running around the site, lot faster then people walking around and a lot better packing capacity and you remove a lot of the manual labor of having to throw bags in a dumpster at the end of the day a packer truck can do a lot more work then a dumpster can.
According to Waste 360 only 134 tons of garbage were removed from the site during the concerts 4 day run which is 268000lbs if my math is right, that's only about 13 truck loads that's not very much for a 4 day festival of almost 300,000 people.
Under lessons learned Waste 360 had this to say:
" Be smart with equipment. Bring packer trucks with four-person crews for late night cleaning of bagged waste. This is more efficient than non-compactor collection vehicles."
'Anyhow I need a little bit of rest had a long night at work tonight will wrap this up soon.
I caught the last day of it. A bunch of stationed at Fort Drum made the drive to Rome, and the gate had already been crashed. I was at the stage opposite from the one where the fires broke out, because I wanted to see Megadeth. We managed to get out of there without incident, though I do remember getting pulled over south of Watertown as I was above the speed limit. We talked about where we were coming from and she made a remark that things were going wild there, but I wasn’t aware of just how bad things had gotten.Mike2633 Thanks this.