ROXANA -- Mike Wever is on a mission to reduce or stop the debris that, according to him and other residents of the area, comes from trucks transporting garbage to Roxana Landfill.
A Madison County resident reported that transfer trucks from Missouri come via Interstate 270, then take Illinois 255 to the Madison Street Exit which turns into Old Alton-Edwardsville Road.
The trucks will turn right at Bender Road and head to the landfill operated in Edwardsville by Republic Services. They pass through four county board districts, 14, 15, 16, and 21. The landfill is located in county board district 17.
Wever started a group on Facebook called Roxana Local Issues in January. At least 98 people are currently members of the group.
Initial concerns included odors, litter, dust, mud, bird drops, and truck traffic.
Wever stated that 'they got lazy on the things outside their fence'.
Republic Services responded to residents' complaints by issuing a statement on Thursday afternoon. The company stated that it cannot control other haulers and their trucks which could lose debris while traveling to the landfill.
Republic Services issued a statement that read: "We at Republic Services work diligently to ensure our operations are compliant in order to protect the human health and environment."
The Madison County Board Building & Zoning Committee approved an emergency appropriation of $200,000 to address the issue of debris and trash along the roads trucks use to reach the landfill.
The money, if approved by the Finance Committee of the Madison County Board and the full Madison County Board will be used for cleaning and enforcement along I-270 and Illinois-143.
The landfill is technically located in Roxana but the Building and Zoning Department of the county has been handling the matter. The funds will be derived from landfill tipping charges in the county.
The next meeting of the county board will be at 5 pm on April 19. The agenda has not been posted on the county's website yet.
According to the
2021 Illinois Landfill Report
Roxana Landfill Inc., of Roxana, ranked first in the State in disposal volume, with 4,886,108 cu yards taken in during the year, and an expected life span of 15 years.
The average five-year volume of disposal is 2,336,906 cu yards. The landfill had a capacity of more than 34 millions cubic yards.
Wever stated that on February 6, at the Roxana Village Council meeting, members of the Roxana Landfill Liaison committee were introduced. David Mahanay, and Kathy Wever would be joining as local residents. Jason Belt and Carrie Ward are Republic Services representatives, while Ken Hoxsey & Marty Reynolds are Roxana representatives.
Mike Wever had posted earlier that day on Facebook about seeing tufts of stuff in the road when he drove along Bender Road the day before. He said that upon closer inspection, the 'tufts' appeared to be pieces of fiberglass insulation, plastic and other unidentifiable materials.
Mike Wever reported that some of these substances had also been adhered to the roads with a dark, oily substance. He reported the next day that Republic had partially cleaned the area.
Cord Stanley, the general manager of the landfill, joined a Facebook group on February 11. Mike Wever said he smelled a mild odor that day. Mahanay concurred with Mike Wever's assessment on February 12 that a partial clean-up had taken place.
According to the Roxana Siting application of September 2008 and landfill safety standards it states that all trucks must sweep open top boxes and tailgates, as well as bumpers, before leaving the work area. This is done to prevent materials falling outside the gate, causing an unsafe or unhygienic condition.
Local residents reported that a Republic Services crew began cleaning litter along Illinois 143 between Bender and Bender on February 16.
When the Barton Landfill was first proposed in 1967, nearby farmers were opposed to the project. They feared that their property would be devalued and they could suffer health issues. Neighbors circulated petitions to oppose the project.
Dan Barton owned a trucking company in south Roxana and planned the landfill. Cay Ursprung, who started the Wever Facebook page, posted on February 23 that due to the landfill construction, two families, Willaredts & Gersteneckers had to leave their homes.
Wever confirmed this information on February 24. Ursprung, Barton, and Willaredt lived in the same neighborhood when Barton was planning the landfill. Over 185 landowners also objected.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in the late 1980s, debated three final alignments of Interstate 255. The eastern alignment was to have placed the road on the bluff, and would have required extensive grading. The western route would've displaced more residents, while the middle road was said to have cut up the best horseradish farmland in the country.
This activity was the basis for the pre-annexation contract signed in August 1989 between Willaredt and Roxana. Wever explained that Roxana annexed all landfill properties across Madison Avenue, almost half way to Edwardsville, and included the entire property.
Willaredt had his land zoned as industrial or commercial and water and sewer lines installed by the village. He sold the property to a landfill, the state, for the Interstate 255.
Roxana was now the "hosting authority" and received $1.6 million annually in landfill fees. It also got free trash collection and other benefits.
The Roxana Landfill liaison committee and the village held their first meeting on March 31.
The meeting was attended by Jason Belt, Roxana's landfill general manager, Carrie Ward (community liaison for the landfill), Marty Reynolds, Roxana's mayor, Ken Huxsey (street commissioner), and representatives from the community Kathy Wever, and Mahaney.
The group acknowledged Republic had made progress, but stated that more could be done. They say that the trucks' tarps or netting work better, but they should remove more debris and clean out roadside drainage systems to reduce ponding during heavy rains.
Wever stated in a post on Facebook Feb. 27 that it is impossible to know if the improvements have had an impact until litter is picked up, enforcement is implemented, and time has passed for reevaluation.
The Intelligencer received an email from Madison County's building & zoning administrator on February 28.
Chris Doucleff said, 'Yes, Mr. Wever’s group is known to us, but we cannot comment on any specific information that they have provided.' What I can tell you is that Madison County has been working hard to develop a plan for addressing the concerns of Mr. Weaver and other residents who are upset by the debris and trash on the roads, highways and yards near the landfill.
We understand that trash is much more than an eye sore. Doucleff said that it has a real and negative impact both on the environment as well as the communities in Madison County. We encourage and value the concerns that the public has brought to the County about this issue.
We are working not only with Roxana landfill but also waste haulers such as MBI Trucking and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Wever published a report on March 2 that he analyzed five years of Illinois Landfill Capacity Reports (2017-2021). The landfill in Roxana, Illinois took in the most waste at 4.9 million cubic feet in 2021. Roxana's Landfill is located in Region 6 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
On the same day, Fort Russell Highway Department workers cleaned Bender Road as well as searched for manholes in order to assist Republic Services with cleaning gutters and grates.
Chris Layloff, a member of the group, posted on 2 March that he had seen IDOT workers collecting trash in the median of Interstate 270 between Illinois 203 & 111.
Mahanay shared a picture of contractors from Badger on Bender Road cleaning drains and culverts. He stated that he believes this work was contracted by Republic Services.
Mahanay stated that a permanent solution for tracking debris would be a logical next step.
Kim Biggs of the IEPA's Public Information Officer said that state officials are investigating whether Republic Services violated any regulations.
"The landfill was referred to the Attorney General's Office (AGO) to enforce alleged violations to state law. She said that the AGO would be the best person to answer any questions regarding this matter. The agency does not monitor any alleged violations to local ordinances. Local questions should be directed to the local health department.
The Intelligencer contacted Republic Services on Thursday after the publication of Friday's newspaper, after trying to reach them for weeks.
The Roxana facility is also used by several third-party clients who bring their waste directly here to be disposed of. Republic Services takes measures to secure loads on our vehicles, but we can't enforce the same standards for third-party customers using public roads.
Three of five speakers at the Madison County Board meeting on March 15, 2015, addressed the landfill issue. The board discussed the issue at the conclusion of the regular session before entering executive session.
Mahanay had addressed the issue at the December regular board meeting. He said that since December, there has been a "grassroots" effort to address litter and odor issues.
He said, 'The community took action.' "Citizens picked up trash on the roads leading to the landfill."
He said that while the results were 'notable', they did not solve the problem. The county had to address the issue.
Doucleff attended the meeting. He said that the first step is to clean the trash up. Then, he will determine the exact location of the most serious problems.
Russ Wheat was another speaker who was harshly critical of county board. He proposed a number actions, such as dealing with permits for trucks hauling trash.
He said: 'Start to squeeze those permits, and they won't be able to drive trucks.' There are many things that could be accomplished, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Do a better work.
Board member Mike Babcock (R-Bethalto) said that the issue is complex and the county wants to address it but "we are limited in some way."
He said, 'We're all in agreement about the need to pick up trash.'
Terry Eaker (R-Bethalto), a board member who brought up the issue at many committee meetings, stated that the board is addressing the problem.
He said that IDOT had crews working between Route 3 and Route 203 and they did a great job. Board member Michael Turner of Granite City was also one of these workers.
Local residents claim that after a light drizzle on Mach 22, transport truck residue left a trail on Bender Road of glass and other materials.
Mahaney spoke to The Intelligencer on April 3.
He does not wish to appear as if he is demonizing Republic Services, but wants to see the work done.
He said: 'It's more than just the landfill hauler. It's also about parents throwing a McDonald's wrapping out the window of their car.'
He stated that the odor has increased at the landfill. He lives 1.2 miles from the landfill, and says the odor is so bad that he can't sit outside with his spouse on some days when there's a strong wind coming from the south. He said that their experience was not comparable to the residents who live along Route 143 or Old Alton Road.
He claimed that a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), revealed Collinsville had transported what he called'sewer-sludge', to the landfill. According to the IEPA, this is permitted.
Biggs, from the IEPA, said that "the landfill's permit doesn't prohibit it from accepting sludges from public treatment works." In response to complaints about odors, the landfill has reviewed the sludges that it receives, its sludge-management practices, visited the facilities sending it the sludges, and even rejected sludges that had odor problems.
She added that "there is no law prohibiting interstate shipping or disposal of waste."
Republic Services said to The Intelligencer that "When municipal waste-water treatment facilities process water from your home, they remove biosolids commonly known as sludge." We are able to accept the treated material in accordance with federal and state guidelines.
It is also possible to accept waste from other states. Most of the trucks that bring trash to this landfill are from Missouri.
The company stated that "Roxana is a regional hub which supports both Missouri and Illinois and it is not uncommon for waste to be transported between states in our industry."
Mahaney stated that the progress made in improving the landfill is comparable to a glacier.
The forum on March 31 showed a willingness to work towards resolutions. The committee decided to meet every month for the next two or three months and then quarterly.
Mahaney stated that the ultimate goal if things don't change is to get law enforcement to issue citations.
The group is planning to meet Roxana again at the end April. Mahaney and other nearby residents are still frustrated by the situation.
He said, "Republic is not being a good neighbor right now."
Scott Cousins, a staff writer at the Alton Telegraph, contributed to this article.