Pardon Me, Boys, Is That the: Garbage-Haulin' Choo-Choo?

Waste-by-rail projects were not immune from the wave of mergers and consolidations that crashed over the waste industry during 1998.

Now, as the surviving behemoth companies decide how best to use the riches they've acquired, waste managers nationwide must rethink when, where and how waste-by-rail fits into the industry's evolving business culture.

Some waste-by-rail projects are well-positioned to achieve expanded growth during 1999, but others may have lost their economic advantage. In addition, proposed projects in the Western states appear to be bogged down by legal woes and a changing landfill market.

The following was provided by company representatives and was based on information available regarding project stages.

Every effort was made to include all projects. However, if we missed any, please contact Editor/ Publisher Bill Wolpin at (770) 618-0112 (or via e-mail: 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

Total Size: 13,000 acres

Daily permitted tonnage: No limit

Current daily tonnage: 7,000

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

Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad

Rail cars/containers per day: 120

Trucks delivered per day: approximately 100

Employees: 65

Per ton tipping fee for rail: $25

Truck tipping fee: $25

Status: Columbia Ridge receives 40 percent 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 operations/ marketing philosophy: Columbia Ridge offers a wide range of recycling options for yard waste and bio-solids. 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: Steve Seed, district manager, Waste Management Inc., 17629 Cedar Springs Lane, Arlington, Ore. 97812. Phone: (541) 454-3301. Fax: (541) 454-3312.

Eagle Mountain Landfill and Recycling Center (proposed) Site: Desert Center, Calif.

Total Size: 4,654 acres

Daily permitted tonnage: 20,000

Areas Served: Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad

Status: It was approved by Riverside County in September 1997. In December 1997, the Environmental Impact Report was challenged in Superior Court and was found to be deficient in two areas. The decision was appealed in April 1998.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: The biggest challenge for our operation is the never-ending permitting process in California that is duplicative, costly and provides endless legal opportunities for delay.

The biggest waste-by-rail challenge is the continued operation of old, unlined landfills at much more inexpensive rates, which delays the introduction of new, environmentally safer technology.

Contact: Richard Daniels, president, Mine Reclamation Corp., 43-645 Monterey Ave., Ste. A, Palm Desert, Calif. 92260. Phone: (760) 779-5888. Fax: (760) 779-5891.

E.C.D.C. Environmental (operating) Site: South Central Utah

Opened: 1992

Total Size: 3,500 acres

Acres permitted: 2,400

Daily permitted tonnage: 38,000

Current daily tonnage: 3,100

Areas Served: MSW generated in Utah and special wastes generated nationally.

Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad

Rail cars/containers per day: 150

Trucks delivered per day: 30

Employees: 60

Per ton tipping fee for rail: Varies

Per ton tipping fee for trucks: Varies

Status: Two cells open

Proposed or current operations/marketing philosophy: Handles long-term MSW contracts with government entities and event businesses on a job-by-job basis.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: Volume of waste and long-term beneficial rates and service levels from railroads.

Contact: Dave Fisher, Utah district manager, E.C.D.C. Environmental, P.O. Box 69, East Carbon, Utah 84520. Phone: (435) 888-4451. Fax: (435) 888-5575.

King George County Landfill (operating) Site: 12 miles east of Fredricksburg, Va.

Opened: 1996

Total Size: 628 acres

Acres permitted: 328

Daily permitted tonnage: 4,000

Current daily tonnage: 3,500

Areas Served: Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia are served by truck. Rail service is provided from Baltimore/Annapolis, Md.

Railroad: CSX Transportation

Rail cars/containers per day: 25

Trucks delivered per day: 100

Employees: 40

Per ton tipping fee for rail: Approximately $30

Per ton tipping fee for trucks: Approximately $30

Status: The site is owned by King George County and is operated by Houston-based Waste Management Inc. The site uses a unit train from a transfer station near the Baltimore airport. The unit train consists of converted wood chip cars with sealed lids that are rotary tipped at the site.

Proposed or current operations/marketing philosophy: Marketing the site as a regional landfill in a public/private partnership with the host county.

Growth plans: The site has an estimated 30-year life expectancy.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: Minimize future capital costs of rail car repair and replacement, and car tipper repairs.

Biggest change during the last 18 months: Operational efficiency of the rail car tipper.

Contact: Tim Schotsch, district manager, King George County Landfill, 10376 Bullock Dr., King George, Va. 22485. Phone: (540) 775-3123. Fax: (540) 775-2215.

Maplewood (Amelia) Disposal Facility (operating) Site: Amelia, Va.

Opened: 1993

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 per day: 20

Trucks delivered per day: 80

Employees: 30

Growth plans: No formal growth plans because of the approximate 25 years of remaining capacity.

Contact: Lee Wilson, district manager, USA Waste Services, 20221 Maple-wood Road, Jetersville, Va. 23083. Phone: (804) 561-5787. Fax: (804) 561-5798.

Mesquite Regional Landfill (proposed) Site: 32 miles east of Brawley, Calif.

Total Size: 4,250 acres

Acres permitted: Footprint lined 2,290

Daily permitted tonnage: 20,000

Areas Served: California, especially metropolitan Los Angeles.

Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad

Rail cars/containers per day: 800 projected

Trucks delivered per day: 0 foreseeable

Employees: 268

Per ton tipping fee for rail: $40.45, including transfer and rail

Status: The Mesquite Regional Landfill has successfully completed the permitting process after receiving its air quality permit in January 1999, making it the first fully permitted waste-by-rail system in California.

Approval from the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (ICAPCD) completes the major permits authorizing the Mesquite Regional Landfill to construct and operate, and follows the first-ever solid waste facilities permit granted to a waste-by-rail landfill by the California Integrated Waste Management Board [see "Long and Winding Railroad" sidebar on page 30].

In addition to receiving all major environmental permits related to water, land use and operating conditions, Mesquite also has successfully defended two court challenges. Only building permits and other habitat-related issues with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game remain to be completed prior to construction.

Construction could begin as soon as 2000.

The Mesquite Regional Landfill is ready to begin securing initial contracts with municipalities for waste disposal.

Proposed or current operations/marketing philosophy: The Mesquite Regional Landfill is designed to provide Southern California municipalities with secure, long-term waste disposal in their efforts to meet the state requirements for AB 939.

The diversion requirement makes Mesquite price competitive because the costs will be imposed on virtually all waste whether it is truck hauled to a local landfill or rail hauled to Mesquite. Its fees include the combined costs of waste diversion, transportation and disposal.

Growth plans: The Mesquite Regional Landfill is ready to begin securing contracts for waste disposal. Although the initial objectives have been focused on establishing and growing market share within the Southern California region, the Mesquite Regional Landfill is prepared to expand its services throughout California. The landfill will be constructed above ground near the Union Pacific rail line.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: The biggest challenge is two-fold: explaining to municipalities how (1) Mesquite in particular and (2) waste-by-rail in general are viable options to consider.

The Mesquite Regional Landfill was proposed in response to a Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) report issued in 1988 that called for remote rail-served landfills as an option for meeting the region's waste disposal needs.

The challenge now is to encourage cities and sanitation districts that inspired these ideas 10 years ago to begin using the waste disposal solutions coming to fruition today.

Everyone was supportive when the project was launched at the beginning of the decade, yet they only are beginning to recognize that Mesquite has successfully made it.

The Mesquite Regional Landfill now is ready to be seen as a feasible disposal option by California's municipalities.

Biggest change during the last 18 months: The biggest change in the Mesquite Regional Landfill has been the completion of all major permits required for site construction.

This accomplishment represents the final, major hurdle in California's lengthy and rigorous approval process.

It clearly is the biggest change because now the landfill's focus can expand beyond permitting to concentrate on securing the waste stream necessary to begin operations.

Contact: Robert T. Filler, general manager, Arid Operations Inc., 444 South 8th Street, Ste. B1, El Centro, Calif. 92243. Phone: (760) 337-5552. Fax: (760) 337-9128.

Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (operating) Site: Roanoke County, Va.

Opened: 1994

Total Size: 1,200 acres

Acres permitted: 450

Daily permitted tonnage: No limit

Current daily tonnage: 500

Areas Served: City and county of Roanoke, and the town of Vinton, Va.

Railroad: Norfolk Southern

Rail cars/containers per day: 8 to 10

Trucks delivered per day: 0

Employees: 17

Per ton tipping fee for rail: Varies

Per ton tipping fee for trucks: Varies

Status: The operation will provide service to Roanoke Valley for the next century.

Proposed or current operations/marketing philosophy: Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA) is a world-class facility serving a world-class community.

Growth plans: We do not anticipate any expansion of our service area. However, expected growth will be in operator training and retention, and in continued management excellence.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: New and restrictive legislation continues to challenge best management practices. In general, rail haul needs better container regulation.

Biggest change during the last 18 months: The operation has made subtle changes to respond to flow control rulings and flow diversion. RVRA continues to prosper because no major changes were made.

Contact: John R. Hubbard, chief executive officer, RVRA, 1020 Hollins Road, NE, Roanoke, Va. 24012-8011. Phone: (540) 857-5050. Fax: (540) 857-5056.

Roosevelt Regional Landfill(operating) Site: Roosevelt, Wash.

Opened: 1991

Total Size: 2,500 acres

Acres permitted: 915

Daily permitted tonnage: 9,615

Current daily tonnage: 4,500

Areas Served: Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, northern California, Oregon and Washington.

Railroad: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail cars/containers per day: 250

Trucks delivered per day: 30

Employees: 100

Per ton tipping fee for rail: $20.66

Per ton tipping fee for trucks: $20.66

Status: The Roosevelt Regional Landfill Subtitle D facility is operated by Rabanco/Regional Disposal Co., Bellevue, Wash.

Open and operating since May 1991, the landfill serves approximately 22 counties in Washington state, the Napa-Vallejo Solid Waste Authority in northern California and the cities of Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell in southeast Alaska.

Roosevelt is the only landfill in the Northwest that is permitted with a separate ash monocell that accepts ash residue from Spokane, Wash.'s municipal solid waste (MSW) incinerator.

The site's current capacity is estimated at 104 million tons, and the estimated closure date is 2034.

Proposed or current operations/marketing philosophy: While providing a high level of service to our existing public and private customers, Rabanco will continue to use its significant share of the MSW disposal marketplace in the Pacific Northwest as a platform for growth.

Our growth in the Northwest will occur in two areas: Vying for contracts currently held by Rabanco's competitors and establishing new disposal relationships with jurisdictions that will be closing or limiting use of existing disposal facilities.

These opportunities alone will make nearly 3 million tons of waste available for disposal over the next decade.

Growth plans: Rabanco is considering a future expansion of the Roosevelt site to accommodate the Pacific Northwest's growing disposal needs.

We will continue to foster good working relationships with local governments and with the solid waste companies we serve. We also will continue to do strategic tuck-ins of solid waste companies that make sense to further our corporate philosophy of vertical integration.

Biggest challenge facing your operation and/or waste-by-rail: Rabanco's waste-by-rail service currently is in its seventh year of operation and is running well with our rail service provider.

In other parts of the country with the recent rail consolidations, one potential challenge will be making sure that there is adequate available rail equipment and experienced railroad personnel to handle waste transportation in a timely and efficient manner.

Biggest change during the last 18 months: Rabanco was acquired in June 1998 by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Allied Waste Industries, the third-largest solid waste concern in North America.

We are looking forward to the future with our new company strength and resources to better serve existing customers and to expand our base of operations in the Northwest.

Contact: Eddie Westmoreland, regional sales manager, Rabanco Regional Disposal Co., 200 112th Ave. NE, Ste. 300, Bellevue, Wash. 98004. Phone: (425) 646-2400. Fax: (425) 646-2440.

Editor's Note: Representatives from Waste Management Inc./Atlantic Waste, Waverly, Va., and the Amboy, Calif.-based Railcycle project did not respond to this year's survey. For more information about these operations, see "The Garbage Stops Here," World Wastes, January 1998, page 24.

Lynn Merrill, a World Wastes contributing editor, is the solid waste manager for the city of San Bernardino, Calif.