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Local

DeKalb County Landfill expansion set in motion

Waste Management preparing new cell that could start receiving trash next year

CORTLAND – Those driving to the DeKalb County Landfill in Cortland Township will see acres of soil and garbage, but they'll also remember the smell of gases.

All landfills emit gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. In DeKalb County, gases funnel through pipes throughout the landfill to a tall pole with a flare, which constantly burns off the gases.

Some landfills collect the gases expelled and use it to generate power, but Waste Management District Manager Mike Hey said the DeKalb County Landfill does not currently receive enough waste to use the gas power.

"With the landfill expansion, it will," he said.

That expansion, something that has been discussed for years, is underway, with the first new cell expected to be finished early next year. Work began this spring to extend the existing 245-acre landfill south near the intersection of Somonauk and Gurler roads.

An amended host agreement with DeKalb County will allow Waste Management to bring in an additional 500 tons of trash on top of its current rate of 300 tons a day starting Aug. 1.

The progress is weather-dependant, however. Crews were not working on expansion projects June 11 because of the overcast and rainy weather with north winds blowing about 10 mph. In response to an incident that sickened dozens of people at Cortland Elementary School, an agreed order with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan bars Waste Management from digging into solid waste in cases of strong winds or other conditions that impact air quality.

When trucks first enter the landfill from Somonauk Road, they are weighed at the scale house, which also houses offices. Come August, up to 24 trucks a day will be weighed at there.

Adjacent to the scale house is a receptacle where rural residents who do not receive curbside recycling can drop off their recyclable material. Expansion of recycling efforts are also part of the amended host agreement with the county.

Then there's the collection of garbage at the landfill. Once crews complete the first new cell, garbage will be dumped at both the current landfill and the new cell area. A 110,000-pound compactor breaks material into smaller pieces to compress it into trash. Garbage is covered with six inches of soil daily.

The landfill also has a compost area, which will be relocated to the far eastern portion of the site. The compost includes yard waste and decomposes naturally with the help of a machine putting compost into long rows that allow the compost to breath and dry.

Compost operations are separate from landfill operations, Hey said.

Near the compost area is the storm water basin, which will be moved to near the intersection of Somonauk and Gurler roads.

The area near the compost was an old landfill from the 1940s and '50s, said Waste Management spokeswoman Lisa Disbrow. There were fewer rules and restrictions in place at that time, so that portion of the landfill is not being used, Disbrow said.

Waste Management will hire three to five more individuals to help with the expansion and add a landfill tipper that will help heavy trucks dump waste into the landfill, Hey said.

Once the constructed cell is finished, state officials will inspect the expanded landfill and give Waste Management an operating permit to allow them to use the cell, which Waste Management hopes is at the start of 2015.

"Once the cell is done," Hey said, "we'll fill it and use it."

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