The state's Department of Labor and Industry issued citations to the transit agency for a problem with pigeons -- and their droppings -- at Metro's Four Mile Run bus garage in Arlington in April. The problem was supposed to be fixed by May 21, but the case remains open, records show.
"Pigeons were roosting in the ceiling on ledges, air ducts and any horizontal space available to them," one of the citations reads.
And with the pigeons come their droppings, which contaminated the floor, a fare box receptacle and a 55-gallon drum, the citations said.
|Purpose for pigeon poop|
|The fowl excrement may not be wanted by Metro workers, but it has its uses elsewhere. Some people use it as a fertilizer to enrich compost for gardens. It is also used as a leather dye, famously in vats at tanneries in Morocco.|
Serious citations are the second worst type of violations that the state can issue behind "willful" ones and are handed out in situations that involve possible harm to employees, according to Jennifer Wester, director of cooperative programs. No fines were issued but Metro is required to fix the problem.
The citations said that neither the agency's housekeeping schedule nor the agency's extermination program was doing enough to keep the area vermin-free, clean and sanitary. Metro also received lesser citations for not properly filling out mandatory log books of worker injuries, records show.
Pigeon poop is more than just a messy nuisance. Humans can catch three diseases from fungus and bacteria in the droppings: histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis.
Bird droppings are supposed to be hosed off with water rather than swept or cleaned dry as the dust can fill the air.
Metro apparently tried to get rid of the birds but the citations say that an "ultrasonic bird repeller" was not doing the job. The transit agency also looked into installing a "screech box" outside the building but found it did not scare them away, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
The agency has taken several steps to try to clean up after the birds and deter them from making a home in the garage, Stessel said.
"We are continuing efforts to deter roosting of pigeons in the bus maintenance facility, including the use of feeding stations to bait pigeons," he said.
The agency had a contractor clean the area three times in May, then power wash the entire area in June. But crews had to remove new debris and sanitize the bay less than two weeks later.
Metro now closes the doors during the day when buses aren't being fueled or maintained, then cleans the area nightly after the buses have been refueled, Stessel said. He said the transit agency submitted its actions to the state last month and considers the case closed. Wester said the state and Metro are still working on resolving the issue.