The Garbage Stops Here

January 1, 1998

11 Min Read
The Garbage Stops Here

Lynn Merrill

From coast to coast, waste by rail has chugged along at a slow, but steady pace, fueled by municipalities that are facing the impossibility of siting local landfill capacity.

From the Northwest, where two of the nation's pioneering waste-by-rail programs flourish, to the East Coast where New York City garbage - once destined for the Fresh Kills landfill - is loaded on Virginia-bound trains, rail haul continues to be an effective and efficient method for transporting waste long distances when landfill capacity is scarce.

But just how prevalent is waste by rail in the United States? To flesh out the answer, World Wastes surveyed existing and proposed waste-by-rail served landfills, collecting information on the sites, capacities and operations. The information was provided by company representatives who answered as completely as possible, depending on the project's stage and/or the company's willingness to comment on particular questions.

Every effort was made to include all projects. However, if we missed some, please contact Editor/Publisher, Bill Wolpin at (770) 618-0112 or via e-mail at [email protected] and provide us with your project's point of contact. This information will be included in future waste-by-rail surveys.

Columbia Ridge Landfill and Recycling Center (operating)

Site: Arlington, Ore.

Opened: 1990

Acres: 15,000

Daily permitted tonnage: No limit

Current daily tonnage: 6,000

Areas served: Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Kennewicke, Wash.; Sandpoint, Idaho; Moscow, Idaho; King County, Wash.; and Pullman, Wash.

Railroad: Union Pacific, Dallas

Rail cars/containers per day: 120

Trucks delivered per day: less than 90

Employees: 90

Per ton tipping fee for rail tonnage: $25

Truck tipping fee: $25

Status: Columbia Ridge receives 40 to 50 percent of its waste by rail and provides intermodal, gondola and tanker services. Rail options also are available for hazardous wastes at an adjacent site.

Proposed or current operation's philosophy: "We offer a wide range of recycling options for yard waste, bio-solids and soils," says General Manager Norm Wietting. "We also offer disposal alternatives at our adjacent Chemical Waste Management hazardous waste landfill."

Growth plans: The site plans to expand recycling alternatives, such as food waste composting, and treatment alternatives to remove hazardous waste characteristics.

Contact: Norm Wietting, General Manager, Waste Management Inc., 13227 South East 54th Place, Kirkland, Wash. 98006. (425) 823-6164. Fax: (425) 814-7868.

Roosevelt Regional Landfill (operating)

Site: Klickitat County, Wash.

Opened: 1991

Acres: 2,500

Acres permitted: 950

Annual permitted tonnage: 3 million tons

Current daily tonnage: 7,000

Areas served: Counties in Washington State: Klickitat, Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Jefferson, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pend Oreille, Adams, Lincoln, Ferry, Pacific, Franklin and Spokane (city and county).

In California, it serves the cities of Napa and Vallejo, and the South Napa Waste Management Authority within Napa County. It also serves the city of Ketchikan, Alaska, and a variety of customers in both Washington State and British Columbia, Canada, including large industrial companies.

Railroads: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Ft. Worth, Texas, and Union Pacific

Rail cars/containers per day: 270

Trucks delivered per day: 11

Employees: 125

Per ton tipping fee for rail tonnage: $40 (including transportation)

Truck tipping fee: $19.50 at gate

Status: Currently, about 125 acres are developed. The facility is operated as a bio-reactor with energy recovery.

Proposed/current operations and marketing philosophy: The site plans to serve the Pacific Northwest through a series of feeder intermodal lines which operate in a hub-and-spoke pattern.

Growth plans: Expansion of permitted capacity

Contact: Mark Wolken, Senior Vice President, RABANCO/Regional Disposal Co., 200 112th Avenue, N.E., Bellevue, Wash. 98004. Phone: (425) 646-2539. Fax: (425) 646-2440.

Eagle Mountain Landfill and Recycling Center (proposed)

Site: 60 miles east of Indio, Calif.

Acres: 4,654

Acres permitted: 2,262

Daily permitted tonnage: 20,000

Areas to be served: California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara

Railroads: Union Pacific Railroad and private 52-mile service line into site

Rail cars/containers per day: 74 cars/ 150 containers

Trucks delivered per day: 100

Employees: Approximately 250 at peak of operations

Per ton tipping fee for rail tonnage: To be determined

Truck tipping fee: To be determined

Status: The project was approved in 1992 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and was granted 17 of the required 20 permits prior to the Superior Court's 1994 challenge to the environmental impact report (EIR).

A new EIR was completed in January 1997, and after 17 public hearings, the project was approved again by Riverside County in September 1997. The next month, the required land exchange was federally approved. Currently, the site is seeking reissuance of required permits from state regulatory agencies.

Proposed/current operations and marketing philosophy: "Eagle Mountain provides an affordable long-term, environmentally superior option for the disposal of Southern California's waste," says Kay Hazen, vice president of public affairs for Mine Reclamation Corp., Palm Desert, Calif. "Shipping waste by rail to the remote desert will allow unsafe urban landfills to close and will remove thousands of polluting trucks from crowded highways."

Growth plans: "We expect Eagle Mountain to be open as early as 1999," Hazen reports. "The landfill will be constructed in five phases, and the first phase will last approximately 15 years. At 20,000 tons per day, the entire landfill's life is expected to be more than 100 years."

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste by rail: "Permitting a large landfill site in the most heavily-regulated, litigious and costly state in the nation poses the biggest challenge for Eagle Mountain," Hazen says.

Contact: Kay Hazen, Vice President of Public Affairs, Mine Reclamation Corp. 43-645 Monterey, Ste. A, Palm Desert, Calif. 92260. Phone: (760) 779-5888. Fax: (760) 779-5891.

California Railhaul Systems Mesquite Regional Landfill (proposed)

Site: Approximately 35 miles east of Brawley, Calif.

Acres: 4,245

Acres permitted: 2,290

Daily permitted tonnage: 20,000

Areas served: Southern California

Railroad: Union Pacific

Rail cars/containers per day: 400 rail cars

Trucks delivered per day: 50

Employees: 268

Status: This project is proposed by a venture composed of Western Waste Industries, (a wholly-owned subsidiary of USA Waste Service Inc., Dallas), Gold Fields Mining Corp. and Southern Pacific Environmental Systems Inc., says Robert T. Filler, general manager of Arid Operations Mesquite Regional Landfill, El Centro, Calif. Arid Operations Inc., a Gold Fields Mining subsidiary, will operate the landfill.

"Mesquite Regional Landfill is one component of the California RailFill System and has a design capacity of approximately 600 million tons," Filler says. "The system's other components may include the use of Western Wastes' transfer stations along with existing rail intermodal facilities. Initial plans call for delivery of a single daily trainload of up to 150 40-foot long sealed containers holding up to 25 tons of MSW each to the landfill.

"The final EIR and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the landfill project were approved by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors in September 1995. One month later, the project's EIR adequacy was challenged by five environmental organizations.

"Subsequently, a California Superior court judge ruled that some of the analysis in the final EIR required clarification. As a result, an addendum to the project's final EIR was certified by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on September 24, 1996.

"On April 14, 1997, the Superior Court judge ruled that the addendum was in compliance with the court's instructions and with the intent and requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act process. The Superior Court's decision was not appealed and became final on June 16, 1997.

"On March 26, 1997, the Waste Board issued a solid waste facilities permit to the landfill. In addition, the Imperial County air control district has deemed that the project's application for the air quality permit is complete, although the terms and conditions are still being negotiated. At presstime, this permit was expected to be issued by the end of 1997. Once the permit is secured, the site development can begin, but construction is not expected to commence until waste commitments and contracts have been secured."

Proposed/current operations and marketing philosophy: Provide a full range of MSW services at a competitive cost to Southern California communities.

Growth plans: The site aims to become the preferred provider of MSW services and disposal in the region as the demand for alternative landfill capacity accelerates over the next three to 20 years.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste by rail: A continuing soft market for disposal capacity in the region due to the reduction of constraints on MSW flow into several California counties and to the potential expansion of existing landfill sites. This soft market is exacerbated by the region's recession, which cut waste volumes in the first half of the 1990s. The Los Angeles Basin market for landfill capacity will firm as growth resumes and existing sites exhaust capacity.

Contact: Robert T. Filler, General Manager, Arid Operations Mesquite Regional Landfill, 444 South 8th Street, Ste. B1, El Centro, Calif. 92243. Phone (760) 337-5552. Fax: (760) 337-9128.

Railcycle (proposed)

Site: Near Amboy, Calif.

Acres: 4,800

Acres permitted: 2,500

Daily permitted tonnage: 21,000

Areas served: Southern California

Railroad: Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Rail cars/containers per day: 350/700

Trucks delivered per day: 0

Status: The CUP is issued and the site is EIR-certified. The court has upheld challenge to EIR, but the opposition is expected to appeal and additional litigation is ongoing.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste by rail: We are required to obtain countywide voter approval of the business license tax used as the mechanism for the host fee to the county.

Contact: Glen Odell, Project Director, Waste Management, 18500 Von Karman, Ste. 900, Irvine, Calif. 92715. Phone: (714) 757-2531. Fax: (714) 757-2508.

King George Landfill (operating)

Site: King George, Va.

Opened: 1996

Acres: 644

Acres permitted: 290

Daily permitted tonnage: 4,000

Current daily tonnage: 2,500

Areas served: Virginia and Northeastern United States

Railroad servicing the site: CSX, Richmond, Va.

Rail cars/containers per day: 22

Trucks delivered per day: 110

Employees: 28

Contact: Bill Cole, District Manager, USA Waste Services, 10376 Bullock Drive, King George, Va. 22485. Phone: (540) 775-3123. Fax: (540) 775-2215.

Maplewood (Amelia) Disposal Facility (operating)

Site: Jetersville, Va.

Opened: 1994

Acres: 804

Acres permitted: 404

Daily permitted tonnage: 5,000

Current daily tonnage: 2,500

Areas served: Virginia and Northeastern United States.

Railroad: Norfolk Southern, Norfolk, Va.

Rail cars/containers per day: 20

Trucks delivered per day: 80

Employees: 30

Contact: Lee Wilson, District Manager, USA Waste Services, 20221 Maplewood Road, Jetersville, Va. 23083. Phone: (804) 561-5787. Fax: (804) 561-5798.

Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (operating)

Site: Roanoke, Va.

Opened: 1994

Acres: 1,200

Acres permitted: 450

Daily permitted tonnage: No limit

Current daily tonnage: 550

Areas served: Residential and commercial customers in the city and county of Roanoke and in the town of Vinton

Railroad: Norfolk Southern

Rail cars/containers per day: 8

Trucks delivered per day: 0 to 1

Employees: 34 at both the landfill and transfer station

Per ton tipping fee for rail tonnage: $53 to $55

Truck tipping fee: $53 to $55

Status: "We still are operating efficiently without problems," reports John Hubbard, chief executive officer of Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA), Roanoke, Va. "The site has lost most of the commercial waste stream to private hauler landfills."

Proposed/current operations and marketing philosophy: "RVRA maintains its dedication to serve only the Roanoke Valley," Hubbard says. "Facilities will remain a long-term asset for economic development, not profit."

Growth plans: RVRA will continue to improve operating efficiencies. Expansion of the service area is not a priority.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste by rail: "RVRA continues to promote use of local facilities over private landfills located elsewhere," Hubbard says. "Businesses need to be made more aware of local facilities' benefits and the risks of private landfills."

Contact: John Hubbard, Chief Executive Officer, Roanoke Valley Resource Authority, 1020 Hollins Road, N.E., Roanoke, Va. 24012. Phone: (540) 857-5050. Fax: (540) 857-5056.

Waste Management Inc. (WMI)/Atlantic Waste (operating)

Site: Waverly, Va.

Areas served: New York City and Northeastern United States.

Railroad: Conrail, Philadelphia (as of presstime)

Rail cars/containers per day: 60 cars/ 240 containers

Status: On June 9, 1997, after a competitive bid process and extensive review, the New York City department of sanitation awarded the contract for managing the MSW from the Bronx to WMI of New York. On July 7, 1997, the first department of sanitation trucks tipped their waste at WMI's Bronx transfer station.

To handle the waste efficiently, WMI purchased 1,000 20-foot watertight intermodal containers and an Amfab compaction unit which compacts 1,600 tons per day into 20 ton bales which are extruded into the container. The loaded containers are trucked 1.8 miles to WMI's intermodal facility at Conrail's Oak Point Yard.

The containers are placed, four per car, on leased 85-foot, 100-ton flat cars. The cars are shipped in 60-car unit trains from the Bronx to Atlantic Waste in Waverly, Va. The unit trains travel straight from New York to Virginia, stopping only for crew changes.

WMI contracted with In-Terminal Services to provide the yard services in the Bronx, using an MJ450 85,000-pound capacity side loader to hoist the containers onto the flatcars.

In Virginia, Atlantic Waste also contracted with In-Terminal to de-ramp and tip the containers. Due to the unique nature of the operations, In-Terminal uses two rubber-tired gantry cranes. WMI, in partnership with Atlantic Waste, has developed, designed and constructed an intermodal facility capable of handling the 60-car unit train in 27 hours or less.

Contact: Jim Manning, WMI, 3003 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook, Ill. 60523. Phone: (630) 572-8800. Fax: (630) 218-1554.

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