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River clean-up in hazmat suits

05/16/2015
How did these Peace Panties wind up down by the river?

How did these “Peace Pants” wind up down by the river? (Photo by Buck Johnson)

 

I’m sure passing drivers thought Sponge Bob had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to pick trash down by the river.

But it was me.

Last weekend a Brewer civic group sponsored a River Clean Up Day, and while we live in neighboring Bangor, I joined the folks next door in litter mission along the nearby Kenduskeag Stream. But first there was a stop at Ocean State Job Lot.

We needed work gloves to protect our hands from broken glass, rusty nails and, yes, used needles.

We also discovered we needed something else: Hazmat suits.

“Well, they’re only $2,” I said, as neighbor Kristin tried on an over-sized white cover all. She looked like a snowball.

Down by the stream my yellow hazmat suit came in handy: It battled the snags and scrapes as I plowed through underbrush and crawled below a bridge. It warned drivers as I wandered along the shoulder picking up bottle caps, lighters, old t-shirts, plastic bags, tobacco tins and dozens of 32-oz Styrofoam cups (with straws) presumably tossed by passing motorists.

It also helped me locate Buck as I climbed out of a ravine. He was sported a yellow hazmat suit too, as he lugged multiple used tires out of a ditch. He looked like the Gorton’s Fish Stick guy at work on Pit Row.

In all, we spent about three hours down by the stream that morning. We collected nine 25-gallon plastic bags of trash, seven car tires, a mangled safety cone, a steel cable, a television set and a broken crack pipe.

“It took us longer than I thought to find that thing,” said Ben. He had e pulled it off the river bank shortly before noon.

In the end, we jammed the back of  my truck full with trash and went off to look for the official River Clean-Up Day dump site. We were so loaded down I had to put the old truck in low.

It was enough to make Sponge Bob cry.

The Hazmat Team poses with a full pick-up truck. (Photo by Jennifer Moore)

The Hazmat Team poses with a full pick-up truck. (Photo by Jennifer Moore)

 

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