To battle rat problem, DC considering cracking down on businesses' storage of trash

Complaints about rats in the District are on the rise after a mild winter. The health department is reporting a huge number of rat dens throughout the city. D.C. leaders are trying to fight back against this problem and are taking aim at restaurants and businesses.

Several D.C. council members are backing a plan that would instruct businesses to have a rodent prevention plan in place where they would be obligated to store cooking grease inside or make sure it is sealed up outside. This legislation would also make sure trash cans are sealed outside to keep rodents from feeding on thrown out food.

"This would take us up to the next level, which would really be trying to get all of the establishments to have best practice," said D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 1). "How those trash containers are stored - ideally interior, not external - that is where obviously the rats are. And really get at the grease trappings. I have heard a lot of neighbors talk about it - between the trash and grease, it is like a buffet for the rats.

"We are trying to get at that. We have got to get that out of our alleys, out of our neighborhoods and really make sure we are controlling for it. It is a serious problem for a health and safety issue in our neighborhoods."

The District understands that some businesses have limited space and will work with those who need to store waste outside.

Under this proposed legislation, the health department will be able to fine businesses and the money raised from the citations will go to a fund used to battle the rodent problem in the city.