Triangle Troubleshooter

Troubleshooter: No pass on potty pumping

Staff WriterApril 13, 2011 

  • I wanted to run the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in honor of somebody. It gave my training more meaning.

    I contacted Make-A-Wish, a charity I came to know after writing a story about several members of the Carolina Hurricanes who played hockey with children who have medical conditions.

    Make-A-Wish matched me with Parker Arnold because he and his family are leaving for Disney World the same day of the race. I wrote about him in my March 2 column.

    Parker made it to Disney thanks to your donations.

    But Make-A-Wish has plenty of other wishes that need to be granted.

    More than 200 children are on its wish waiting list. Wishes are both big (Disney) and small (computers).

    If you or your business wants to adopt a child's wish, visit

I slowly finished the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon on Sunday, and Parker Arnold, 11, went to Disney World thanks to your generous donations of $8,000 to Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina.

But in helping solve one problem, I found another at the half marathon: the portable toilets at the RBC Center.

And this one didn't pass the smell test.

When runners arrived for the race on Sunday morning, the toilets, in the parking lot, were full to the brim, lacked toiletry supplies and were littered with beer cans and wine bottles.

There was no room in the potties for the business of 1,200 runners set to run 13.1 miles. Runners tend to drink a lot of water before showing up to a race and then wait until the last minute to go so they won't have to during their run.

And anyone who has used one of these things knows that even the cleanest are disgusting, but disgusting doesn't begin to describe the situation Sunday.

So I wanted to know who is responsible for emptying the RBC's portable toilets? And why hadn't they been emptied?

I learned that there were three major events at the RBC Center over the weekend within 24 hours of each other, beginning Saturday morning with the MS Walk, which had 4,000 walkers.

Then there was the sold-out Hurricanes game Saturday night with 17,000 fans, some of whom tailgated and imbibed.

Then Sunday was the half marathon.

So by the numbers: There were seven portable toilets for 4,000 walkers at the MS Walk; 17,000 hockey fans; and 1,200 runners.

With all these people coming to RBC, did anyone think to empty them?

According to Readilite, the Raleigh company contracted with RBC to provide the toilets for the hockey games, they were emptied Friday night, said Carey Mack, Readilite's operations manager.

But that was before all the events.

RBC is responsible for contacting Readilite to let them know when the potties need to be pumped, Mack added.

So I called RBC and asked if they thought to have them serviced.

"I have no idea," said Dave Olsen, RBC's general manager. "I know a lot of things around here, but I don't know about Porta-John etiquette."

Nor did he know who is responsible for making sure the toilets get emptied.

Olsen said the RBC Center was open for the events, as were its bathrooms, but that fact was lost on the runners lined up at the toilets at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

The portable toilets will be removed and pumped soon because hockey season is over. And by law, the company has to pump them clean before they transport them.

I sure wish that was the law before a race when you're all nerves, and something like this can really throw your game.

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