News Briefs: Public Sanitation Issues Linked to Philadelphia Hepatitis A Outbreak

News Briefs: Public Sanitation Issues Linked to Philadelphia Hepatitis A Outbreak

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A recent hepatitis A outbreak in Philadelphia has left city leaders searching for portable sanitation-based solutions. Whereas the city usually sees about six cases of hepatitis A annually, there have been 117 reported cases to date for 2019. The outbreak is concentrated in a Kensington neighborhood. The prevalence of homelessness in the neighborhood is intertwined with the opioid crisis, and the sight of human feces — a risk factor for hepatitis A — on the street is common, according to public media organization WHYY.  

Currently, plans are underway to install hand-wash stations in the community and officials are looking to provide toilets as well. However, there is no hard timeline in place for providing public restrooms and it is not clear if restrooms will be permanent structures or portable restrooms.

Oregon church keeps portable restroom

A church in Albany, Oregon, will be able to keep a portable restroom on its lot after a vote by the City Council affirmed that the restroom fell within the current city code. The vote was the culmination of seven months of wrangling.

First Christian Church placed the portable restroom on its property in November 2018 after reports of public defecation on the property. In February, the Albany City Council notified the church that the toilet was not permitted under current city code, stating that portable restrooms could only be permitted in 90-day increments for construction sites. 

However, city staff recently informed the council that the restroom could be permitted under the code as a waste nonconnection because it does not connect to the sewer system. Sean Kidd, city attorney, voiced concerns over the move.

“It’s subjective,” he says. “But if you have a similar use request and it was denied, there could be the potential of a selective enforcement lawsuit.”

After much back and forth over the possible ramifications of allowing the church’s portable restroom to stay — including concerns that the restroom may attract more homeless people to the area — the City Council ultimately allowed it without amending the current code.

Source: Albany Democrat-Herald

PROs serve Chattanooga residents after water main break

A recent water main break in Chattanooga, Tennessee, left multiple schools, businesses, and residences without water and left portable restroom operators in the metropolis scrambling to provide service. About 35,000 Tennessee American Water customers were hosed when a 36-inch water main broke near a water plant, forcing officials to issue a boil water advisory, request water conservation measures and establish water distribution sites. 

Local portable restroom operators were part of efforts to provide sanitation services to affected residents and businesses. Restrooms were placed outside downtown businesses and at least one PRO reports that units were nearly rented out. Water service was restored to most of Chattanooga within 72 hours.

Source: News Channel 9 ABC


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