Transfer station provides options for garbage disposal

Christina Smith
Even though the Tazewell Transfer Station gets about 300 tons of trash per day, the floors are cleaned nightly.

After putting out trash for weekly pick-up, most homeowners might not know or think about what happens with their garbage.

For Tri-County residents, the answer might surprise them.

Carl Niemann, sales and business development manager for Waste Management, said company officials approached East Peoria officials about building a transfer station at 3550 E. Washington St., the previous location of Tazewell Recycling and Disposal Facility.

Niemann said the former landfill opened in 1974 and closed in late 2006 because it had reached full capacity, as designed and approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

 Waste Management and city officials participated in a series of public meetings informing residents about the plans for a transfer station and its impact on the city.

Despite construction for the station taking most of last year, the new Tazewell Transfer Station officially opened in January.

Commercial, residential and garbage trucks have access to the station for trash disposal.

Similar to a landfill, drivers weigh their vehicles on their way into the facility and again on their way out, so an employee in the scale house can charge him or her per ton of garbage.

Niemann said the station serves Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

All of the garbage unloaded at the station is dumped onto a concrete floor. An operator uses an endloader to move the trash into a pile near the back of the building, while another operator runs a backhoe to pick up the trash and load it into a covered transfer trailer, or semi.

A semi driver then transports the trash to the Peoria City/County Landfill, which Waste Management operates.

Kevin Norville, district manager for Waste Management, said the company contracts its transfer work to KRD Trucking, whose drivers deliver the garbage to the Peoria City/County Landfill in Edwards.

Besides overseeing the Tazewell Transfer Center, Norville also manages Waste Management’s operations in Peoria, Macomb and Galesburg.

Norville said the station is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

With more than 60 residential and commercial routes using the station, Norville said about 300 tons of garbage are unloaded at the station every day.

“Internally, we bring in the bulk of the garbage,” Norville said. “East Peoria is our largest third-party customer.”

“The need is becoming more and more prevalent for this kind of facility,” Niemann said. “Our goal is to make it efficient for waste collection vehicles and residents to have a close location to dump garbage.”

By having a quicker traveling time to the station, Niemann said commercial truck drivers can dump their loads sooner and get back on the road to collect more garbage.

While the facility has been open for only two months, Niemann said he has seen the same number of people using the station that used the landfill.

Petroleum-soaked soil, asbestos, appliances, tires and lead acid batteries are not accepted at the station.

 Recyclable material will be collected at the transfer station later this year, Norville said. 

By early summer, Niemann said the station will begin accepting curbside recycling and commercial recycling materials.

Next week, however, East Peoria residents might notice public works vehicles coming in or out of the station to drop off items collected from the city’s curbside clean-up program. 

Tazewell County residents who might assume nothing is being done with the closed landfill would be mistaken.

Inside the landfill, bacteria produces methane gas when it eats the waste at the landfill.

Neimann said landfill gas wells with a 20- to 100-foot-deep hole allow employees to pipe methane inside the landfill to a compressor, where it is de-watered, filtered and pressurized, before being fed into an engine.

 “We have three Caterpillar (Inc.) 3516, 16-cylinder engines in the electricity generating plant, which are specifically designed to run on methane and are used to generate electricity,” Neimann said.

The electricity is then transmitted to adjacent utility lines.

At the East Peoria location, Neimann said the electricity is sold to AmerenCILCO and used locally, which has been occurring since 1989.

 Any excess gas not used for electricity production is burned off as a flare outside of the plant.

Neimann said the amount of electricity produced is enough to provide power to 2,000 homes.

With the number of drivers, mechanics and operators, about 80 employees work at the transfer station.

Approved by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Tazewell Transfer Station was built according to the organization’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Green Design program.

Neimann said the building uses mostly natural light and a small amount of artificial light.

Large, wide, rubberized overhead doors and a high ceiling allow enough room for a truck to pass through, even if the driver leaves a container or arm of the vehicle extended, Neimann said.

 An internal misting system runs throughout the interior of the facility.

“If we had a large amount of dust in the building or an odor problem, we could turn the system on and the mist would either hold the dust down or mask the odor,” Neimann said.

“We have one of the best safety programs at Waste Management,” Norville said. “All of the staff has a safety briefing every morning and a regular safety meeting every week.”

Employees also receive a rules book about how to perform his or her job duties from the time they arrive in the gate until they leave, Norville added.

Both drivers and management staff complete daily stretching exercises.

For most Waste Management drivers, busy times of the year, such as spring, means about a 10-hour shift.

Norville said nine commercial routes start at 4 a.m., with residential routes starting at 5:30 a.m., in order for trucks to get in and out before employees begin arriving at a business.

“Schools are a prime example.” Norville said. “We are in and out before the students arrive.”

For more information about services, call the company at 694-6246.