MORRISON – Earlier this summer, Whiteside County officials considered ending the ban on asbestos in its landfill.
For now, they are holding off after discovering the process was more involved than originally thought.
The issue came up when Prophetstown, which is demolishing the part of downtown that a fire destroyed last month, asked to send asbestos to the county landfill, known formally as the Prairie Hill Recycling and Disposal Facility.
Last week, the Prophetstown City Council approved a contract to clear the rubble.
The landfill’s original 1992 permit bans asbestos, which is considered a hazardous material.
In July, the County Board’s Landfill Committee discussed whether it should be allowed.
Mike Wiersema, the landfill’s manager, told members that most landfills accept such materials, but added that one of the stipulations of the siting process was that the local landfill would not take asbestos, according to the meeting’s minutes. But he assured the panel that the local landfill could safely accept asbestos.
The county’s health department reported it preferred asbestos be brought to the landfill and handled properly, the minutes say.
At the board’s Executive Committee meeting this month, County Administrator Joel Horn said the county could take steps to lift the restriction but wouldn’t do so in time to help Prophetstown to dispose of its demolition debris.
Executive Committee members agreed to have the Landfill Committee address the asbestos issue for future needs.
On Friday, County Engineer Russ Renner said the process to change the permit would take awhile.
“There would be a lot to go through,” he said. “It wouldn’t be done in just a few days.”
Instead, Prophetstown could take its asbestos to the Lee County Landfill, which accepts asbestos, Renner said. But it would be more than twice the distance – from 12 miles to 32 miles.
Renner said the County Board may discuss the asbestos issue at its meeting Tuesday.
The Whiteside County landfill is expected to fill to capacity in 20 years.