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Terrorism creates market for clear plastic trash bins

Runners during Unity Run express solidarity with runners injured explosions BostMarathrun along lakefront near Foster Ave. Chicago Ill. Tuesday April

Runners during a Unity Run to express solidarity with runners injured in the explosions at the Boston Marathon, run along the lakefront near Foster Ave. in Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 16, 2013 9:47PM

Terrorism has created a new market in Chicago and other big cities for a company that started out making bear resistant garbage containers about 14 years ago.

Securr, of Ontario, Calif., now makes clear plastic trash bins that let police and the public spot suspicious items. They’re basically rectangular plastic boxes with steel frames. Chicago is one of the places where Securr would like to sell more of them.

Monday’s deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon demonstrate a need for the bins at events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, said Cory Coulter, a salesman for Securr.

A spokesman for the Chicago Marathon could not be reached for comment.

The company’s receptacles already are being used on Daley Plaza. Last year, the company won a contract to supply the bins to the Public Building Commission, which owns and operates the Daley Center. The containers were placed on the plaza before last year’s NATO Summit, replacing less-secure ones, officials said.

“We’re thinking this may be the starting point. We have been talking to other agencies in Chicago,” said Coulter, who would not identify them.

Coulter said his company developed the clear trash bins for New York’s Long Island Rail Road after the 2004 train bombings in Madrid. He said Denver International Airport and municipal rail systems in Atlanta and Los Angeles became users of the bins, which range in price from about $700-$900 each depending on their capacity.

The Chicago Transit Authority uses a different product to collect trash on the subways.

For the past eight years, clear plastic bags have dangled from “garbage rings” attached to support beams in city’s 21 subway stations, said Tammy Chase, a CTA spokeswoman.

“We use these for safety purposes so maintenance workers can spot anything in the clear bags that look suspicious,” she said.

Heavy metal garbage receptacles are still in place on CTA L platforms, though.

“Part of it is wind — on those [L] platforms you can’t have those bags,” she said.

Chicago’s downtown streets have yet another type of trash bin: BigBelly Solar compactors. In 2011, the city entered a $2.5 million contract with BigBelly to provide at least 400 of the compactors in the central business district, where pedestrian traffic is busiest and trash bins need frequent pickups.

But the BigBelly compactors aren’t transparent. Asked whether the Boston terror attacks will prompt the city to move some of them away from big buildings, officials said no.

“The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is in close communication with the Chicago Police Department and the [911 center] regarding matters of public safety,” said Streets & San spokeswoman Anne Sheahan. “We are not removing BigBellies or other refuse receptacles from the public way.”

Also Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to discuss specific security changes for Chicago and repeated earlier statements from police and the 911 center that there was “no credible threat” to the city.

“The Chicago Marathon will go on, as [will] all of the other big events,” he added. “You have to wait for the after-action report [from Boston to learn whether] you make any alterations or changes.”

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