AVAC Repair Work Is Underway, Clearing Blocked Tube


Welcome AVAC repair work is underway along the West Promenade near Rivercross. Recurring problems leading to shutdowns have hampered the garbage collection system since last May. RIOC contractor ENVAC is now tackling the worst of it.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

AVAC repair underway near the Rivercross manhole cover.

“Kindly note the west side line of the AVAC system is partially complete but still in need of repairs near buildings 505 and 531 Main Street. This zone is clogged with solid and liquid material that requires RIOC engage a third party to remove.  Once the waste is cleared, certain upgrades to the system will be necessary to prevent future clogging in this area. RIOC is working with ENVAC Iberia (vendor that maintains the system) to schedule continued repair work and RIOC will provide updates as they become available,” RIOC emailed in a November Advisory.

Of course, being RIOC and protected, they never provided a single update, but the rest of it seems right, if hopelessly awkward.

AVAC Repair and Rehab.

AVAC systems are used in many different settings, but they are particularly well-suited for removing garbage in large public areas like Disney World and Roosevelt Island. The systems are efficient and environmentally friendly, and they help keep these areas clean and safe for visitors as well as residents.


The current project stems from a major breakdown, last year. Some parts of Rivercross are still not working, but problems have ranged from Roosevelt Landings to the systems south end in the past nine months. Originally, a bed frame jammed down a chute caught RIOC’s blame. But that story was never really credible.

Still, an ENVAC supervisor on the scene told The Daily that system misuse was the major problem. “I’ve seen everything down there – baseball bats, hockey sticks,” he said. “People throw their cat litter in. You know the heavy plastic wrap they deliver mattresses in? They ball it all up in a bunch and throw it in.”

The truck’s sign says, “Earth Repair,” and it looks powerful enough.

Age is a factor

Although misuse is common, ENVAC’s work with AVAC results largely from wear and tear. Disney World opened the first U.S. AVAC in 1971, and Roosevelt Island came on board in 1974. When you consider that nearly fifty years have passed with many more buildings linked into the system, the local track record for uptime is pretty good.

But even after ENVAC is done with cleaning out and repairing tubes, there’s still the matter of residents dumping everything but the kitchen sink in. On the other hand, a kitchen sink or two may have made it in.

Roosevelt Island’s mobile population, counting foreign students and diplomats, means that many come and go without learning how the system works, the dos and don’ts. And many who live here are not well-informed – for a reason: there is little relatively available information. The guy throwing a baseball bat in could just as easily left it out for recycling. Make that more easily.

And last year’s possibly mythical bed frame? Much easier to leave it for trash collection than bend and break it for a fit into the AVAC.

After the AVAC Repair

A RIOC manager who stopped by, along with the ENVAC supervisor, pushed back against the idea that the state agency was responsible for signage at AVAC chutes.

“It’s the building managers,” both agreed.

“We give them all the information. It’s their building. We can’t go in an put up signs.”

Not a confidence building point of view, but it does make sense. A better real world solution would see RIOC making up signs for every AVAC chute and asking building managers to affix them prominently. That would help everyone while lessening the risks of future shutdowns.

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