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County says no to trash blowing from landfill

County says no to trash blowing from landfill

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PONTIAC - County officials have told operators of Livingston Landfill that they will not tolerate trash blowing from the landfill and garbage trucks into surrounding fields and roadsides.

On March 31, high winds caused litter to blow out of the landfill northwest of Pontiac. Although much of the debris has been cleaned up, county leaders don't want the same type of incident to happen again.

"We really want these issues taken care of," said board member Bill Flott. "As far as the wind, (the landfill should) start closing down much earlier in the wind events. We expect these matters to be resolved."

Flott, who chairs the county committee that oversees the landfill, also said the board is concerned about an odor coming from the facility and about litter along Interstate 55 dropped by garbage trucks.

Allied Waste Inc., the landfill operator, has workers dedicated to cleaning up blown debris, but site manager Paul Beezhold said he made a mistake that day.

"That day was a nightmare for myself and it will not be repeated," Beezhold told the board when it met Thursday. "The buck stops at me; I'm the one who makes the call."

Beezhold made the decision to close the landfill around 10:30 a.m. March 31, but he still allowed trucks on the way to the landfill to drop loads. He said stopping trucks in route on a Friday would have been an "operational nightmare."

Winds on that day were about 23 mph with gusts up to 53 miles per hour, according to weather records.

Beezhold said fences that collect debris around where loads are dumped fell over in the wind. He said he had 23 people picking up the trash that was blowing.

Flott said the county had received an apology from the landfill about the incident, but additional cleanup still is needed after the winds of that day. He told Beezhold that the cleanup needs to be a priority for the upcoming week.

"There are farmers that are still finding plastic in their fields, and that's a problem," said County Board Chairwoman Jeanne Rapp.

The landfill has shut down 10 times since January because of wind, Beezhold said. He said they are currently working at the highest point of the mound, 120 feet.

Beezhold said he hopes when they move to a new cell, the blowing-litter problems will stop.

Allied Waste has an agreement with the county to clean up the shoulders of Interstate 55 from Pontiac to Interstate 80. Beezhold said they will add more people to the cleanup force.

Beezhold said landfill workers continue to investigate the source of the odor, and he believes it started because an older portion of the landfill was dug up.

Livingston County Environmental Association President Carolyn Gerwin encouraged the board and other people to file formal complaints with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency when problems occur at the landfill.

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