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[whitespace] Human head turns out to be a goat's--or a coconut

Sunnyvale--To most people, finding a goat head in the garbage would be, at the very least, disturbing. But for Jack Mason and other workers at the recycling station on Carl Road, it was all in a recent day's work.

"It turned out to be no big deal here," said Mason, district manager of the station. But it started as a big deal. Last Wednesday, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety responded to a call from the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer (SMART) station after an employee reported that she thought she saw a human head in the garbage.

"So we went down there and sorted through almost 100 tons of garbage," Public Safety Capt. Steve Pigott says. "As it turns out, it was either a goat head or a large ham wrapped in a garbage bag. We're figuring it came from a rancher, because the station receives garbage from all over."

The SMART station collects trash from Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto and separates the trash into recyclables and non-recyclables. According to Mason, the average day brings in 1,000 tons of garbage, in which there are occasional oddities.

"Just about everything will come through this station at some point," he says. "And there's really no telling where it came from."

Mason says it is rare that the sorting process stops--but it stopped last Wednesday.

"The basic process is to stop the line and have a supervisor come over," Mason says. "But last week, Public Safety was called before it got to the supervisor."

SMART station employees identified a 20-minute time frame in which the worker first saw the head, and then Mason says they isolated all the suspect piles of trash, and Public Safety workers along with SMART employees sifted through the trash.

"The only thing we found was a smaller skull, which appears to be a goat, or something about that size," Mason says. "That, or a couple of rotting coconuts."
Kelly Wilkinson

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Web extra to the August 12-18, 1999 issue of Metro.

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