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Monroe County Legislature Passes Bryce’s Law to Regulate Grease Traps

The Monroe County Legislature on Sept. 10 unanimously passed a law to regulate the safety and security of grease trap covers at restaurants.

Bryce’s Law was named for the 3-year-old who died in July after apparently stepping on an unsecured cover and falling into a grease trap at Tim Hortons on University Avenue.

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo proposed the law in late July to better regulate the safety and security of grease-trap covers in Monroe County. Prior to the introduction of the new legislation, no clear standard existed for the ongoing inspection and enforcement of grease trap manhole covers in the state.

“As a mother and grandmother, my heart goes out to Bryce’s mother Tenitia Cullum and all who knew and loved this beautiful little boy,” Dinolfo said in a news release announcing the legislature’s action.

“Bryce’s unimaginable loss exposed a clear loophole in (s)tate law, since no one agency was responsible for assuring the safety of grease trap covers. I am sincerely grateful to my (l)egislative partners on both sides of the aisle for joining me in showing how much we can accomplish by working together. It is my hope that the State Legislature will follow our lead by passing a similar version of Bryce’s Law soon, to ensure all New York children and communities receive the same protections they will soon have in Monroe County.”

Under the new county law:

  • Grease traps and/or interceptors with manhole covers shall be designed to withstand expected loads and prevent access by unauthorized individuals. The covers have to be secured by a bolt or locking mechanism, or shall have a cover of sufficient weight to prevent unauthorized access. Sufficient weight shall be calculated by the standard of a 59 pound cover for a 24 inch diameter opening.
  • All grease traps and/or interceptors shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Monroe County Department of Public Health shall inspect annually all permitted food service establishments that use grease traps and/or interceptors with manhole covers. Failure to comply with the requirements shall be subject to enforcement in accordance with the Monroe County Sanitary Code, up to and including a fine and/or suspension of permit.

Monroe County recently completed safety sweeps at nearly 2,500 local businesses to assess the security of local grease trap covers. In total, a team of County inspectors performed safety assessments at 2,492 establishments. Over 530 establishments were identified as having external grease traps. Of the total number of inspections, four deficiencies were identified relating to the security of grease trap covers. The Monroe County Department of Public Health worked with those proprietors and all deficiencies have been corrected.

A final public hearing on the proposed local law is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Monroe County Legislature Chambers. Following the public hearing, the law will be signed by Dinolfo and go into effect by the end of September.