Just how much damage can a fertilizer bomb do to an ordinary garbage truck? Does it make a difference if the truck hails from a Woodbridge-based company?
Find out tonight when California Waste Recovery Systems’ discarded equipment is used for an experiment on the popular “MythBusters” TV show on the Discovery Channel. The episode, appropriately titled “Fire in the Hole,” was taped last September at the Carson Hill Mine near Angels Camp, under the watchful eye of the Calaveras County bomb squad.
“For a country boy like me, it was pretty cool,” said Lodi’s Dave Vaccarezza, who owns Cal-Waste.
Vaccarezza, who was on scene for the detonation, donated the inoperable truck to the Mythbusters after a trio of phone calls this time last year from the show, which was seeking a garbage truck for use in an experiment.
As they do each week, five special effects experts led by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, the show’s stars, seek to scientifically prove (or disprove) popular myths and urban legends. This time, they wanted to determine whether a garbage truck would explode out or up when filled with a concoction that included ammonia nitrate and diesel, according to Vaccarezza.
Since Cal-Waste had recently started serving the Calaveras County area, it only made sense they contacted him — and he just happened to have what he termed “a junker.”
The caller also wanted to know if Vaccarezza had ever heard of the show.
“I watch it all the time,” he said Wednesday.
And, tonight he will watch it at the company’s Galt offices, surrounded by his employees, “who have had to keep their mouths shut a long time,” Vaccarezza joked. “I’m excited for them to see it.”
For him, the experience was kind of surreal. Not only did he enjoy meeting three of the show’s five quirky stars — whom he called genuine and personable — but he witnessed what appears to be a pretty amazing explosion.
Before the countdown to detonation, Cal-Waste’s name and phone number are clearly visible on the 1995 backloader truck, shown in preview clips posted on the show’s website.
Afterward, there’s nothing left except twisted metal and a few tires.
“The explosion was unbelievable,” Vaccarezza said of his view alongside the show’s stars, from behind a van 350 yards from the truck and 600 feet above it. “From that far away, the pressure was like someone was pressing down on your chest. It was spectacular.”
He was also impressed that afterward, the show’s stars were joined by the producer and crew members Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci to pick up the experiment’s remnants. Hyneman and Savage were not present, as they were on another assignment.
“They are really scientists and passionate about what they do,” Vaccarezza said of the Mythbusters he met, who are based in Alameda. “They’re also fun, adventurous guys.”
Cast members from “MythBusters” could not be reached Wednesday. However, Byron used the word “aggressive” to describe the explosion on the TV show’s website.
To see it yourself, watch the episode, which airs at 6 p.m. today on the Discovery Channel. It also includes experiments to determine whether a hand grenade can be stopped before it detonates and whether a TNT explosion can be contained by a file cabinet.
Cal-Waste, honored last week as the Galt Chamber of Commerce Business of the Month for July, also provides trash and recycling collection service locally for both Woodbridge and Galt, and last year opened a transfer station in Galt.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.