MORRISON – In September, the Whiteside County Board allowed Prophetstown to use the county’s landfill to dispose of asbestos from the rubble of a downtown fire in July.
Now, officials are considering whether to drop the asbestos ban permanently. Asbestos has been prohibited since the county set up the landfill in the early 1990s – a way to alleviate neighbors’ concerns.
Next week, the county will have public hearings in Morrison and Sterling to get feedback on ending the ban.
“The county wants to take a deliberate look at whether we should allow asbestos in general to go forward,” County Administrator Joel Horn said Tuesday.
Prophetstown saved significant money by disposing of asbestos at the landfill, which is east of Morrison, rather than going somewhere farther away, he said.
Horn said he had heard of no opposition to allowing asbestos at the landfill.
Before the fire, he said, the county health department reported that it had heard of instances in which people had improperly disposed of asbestos because of the ban.
“That’s what we don’t want,” Horn said. “We want to make it easier for people to dispose of asbestos the proper way, so it doesn’t become a health issue.”
As a result of health department’s reports, the county was already considering lifting the ban before the fire, he said.
“We were forced to consider it with the Prophetstown fire,” Horn said.
Last month, the County Board’s landfill committee instructed Horn to prepare a proposal that would include no limit on asbestos materials that are incapable of becoming airborne, with discounts for Whiteside County residents, according to meeting minutes. That proposal also would allow only county residents to dispose of the variety of asbestos that is capable of becoming airborne, the committee said.
The proposal would include a process for seeking exceptions.
Horn suggested that fees for asbestos from outside the county be in line with charges from neighboring landfills to avoid providing an incentive to have waste hauled to any particular landfill.
No ban plan
Whiteside County will have two public hearings next week on a proposal to allow asbestos at the county landfill.
• 7 p.m. Wednesday in the County Board's chambers at the Whiteside County Courthouse, 400 N. Cherry St. in Morrison
• 7 p.m. Thursday in the community room on the second floor of Sterling City Hall, 212 Third Ave.
The County Board's landfill committee will meet on the asbestos issue at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at the courthouse, just before the monthly board meeting.
Call the county administrator's office at 815-772-5100.