Hazmat team examines Galax garbage truck

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Two city workers reported health complaints, odor

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Emergency workers approached a Galax garbage truck with caution Tuesday after two city workers had health complaints.

City officials had the garbage truck taken to the regional landfill in Hillsville to have the contents examined for hazardous materials after the two city workers sought treatment at Twin County Regional Hospital, according to Galax Police Chief Rick Clark and Public Works Director Charles Joyce.
The men, who were not identified by name, complained of feeling nauseous and light-headed and having difficulty breathing, the city officials said. This occurred at about 8:30 a.m. as the workers were compacting trash they had picked up.
The workers were treated and released.
City officials had state emergency management workers sift through the garbage from the truck, searching for what might have caused the reaction.
Hillsville Fire Department, Carroll Fire Rescue and others stood by at a safe distance as men in protective gear raked through the garbage on a flat spot in a part of the landfill otherwise clear of people.
Carroll Emergency Services Director Joe Roma told The Gazette afterwards that nothing hazardous was found.
But Joyce noted that exposure to chlorine gas could have arisen from a lot of common household cleaning products that might have ended up in the compactor.
"We just want to make sure we don't take chances," he said.
It was also important to check to see if the garbage truck needed to be decontaminated.