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Walmart Neighbors Want Store To Keep Carts Out Of Creek

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The Walmart in Hybla Valley is the source of many of the shopping carts that end up in a nearby creek, and neighbors want the store to start doing something about it. 
Michael Pope
The Walmart in Hybla Valley is the source of many of the shopping carts that end up in a nearby creek, and neighbors want the store to start doing something about it. 

Neighbors in Fairfax County are calling on Walmart to help clean up Little Hunting Creek. One of the biggest offenders for creek pollution? Shopping carts that get lose from the super store's parking lot. 

Betty Scutt pushes her shopping cart through a ragged parking lot of the Walmart on Richmond Highway in Hybla Valley.

"Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad, you know," she says. "You get a bad wheel or something. But what are you going to do? That's the way it goes."

Many of these carts end up in Little Hunting Creek, residents say. Robert O'Hanlon is a volunteer who has spent hours pulling all kinds of trash out of the creek.

"There's beer cans, there's syringes, there's Frisbees," he says. "There's everything that people just don't want to put in the garbage can, basically."

And a lot of Walmart carts.

"Ninety percent is Walmart's grocery carts, and then everything else is like 1 percent," says O'Hanlon.

Virginia Del. Scott Surovell, who represents the area, tried to introduce legislation that would force Walmart to remove their carts from the creek after seven days. That effort was killed in committee, so now he's trying to get the big-box retailer to install electronic brakes on the carts so they won't work outside of the parking lot -- technology that's already been installed at another Walmart nearby.

So far, it hasn't worked. None of the carts at the Hybla Valley location have wheel locks, although it is a popular idea in the parking lot.

One customer, Judy Shaffier, says she thinks Walmart should install the technology on the wheels, because it would help prevent the carts from rolling into people's yards and the creek.

A spokeswoman for Walmart says the retailer is currently looking at adding wheel locks, but she could not provide a date when the technology would be installed.

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