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Health Chief: New Transfer Station Could Ease Trash Crunch in Leominster

November 20, 2018

LEOMINSTER -- As landfills across the state continue to close as each reaches its capacity, creating a trash crunch for many municipalities, the city’s health department director is optimistic a proposed new transfer station could mitigate future trash collection issues in Leominster.

“I believe the city will be in a good position to take advantage of it,” Health Department Director Chris Knuth said of the station that United Materials Management of Westborough is looking to build on Tanzio Road. “I think every municipality is going to have to start looking at this kind of thing.”

As Knuth explained, municipal solid waste produced in Leominster is shipped to landfills throughout the state, however five have closed in the last five years and another four are expected to close by the end of 2019. He estimates that will mean roughly 200 million tons of waste will now have to be rerouted elsewhere each year.

“To me, the writing is on the wall and this is an issue we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “I can’t see any other way but to transfer the materials out.”

One viable solution, Knuth said, is the city building a new solid waste transfer station that could process the city’s trash and cut back on shipping costs.

The site being considered by United Materials Management is a currently undeveloped 13.4 acres located off Route 117.

According to the project’s environmental notification plan, the transfer station would be capable of processing as much as 1,000 tons of material daily.

The city’s Board of Health has yet to sign off on the site. Knuth said he has only heard minor opposition from abutters thus far, adding that his main concerns with the location would be the possibilities for noise pollution and odor from the collected materials. The city did conduct a sound study for the project that determined noise from the transfer station would not violate the state’s air pollution regulations.

A Nov. 9 report from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection also determined that the site meets the suitability criteria for the construction and operation of a transfer station. According to that same report, the facility would process a combination of municipal solid waste and debris from construction or demolition, with an annual acceptance limit of 300,000 tons.

Though the transfer station would help alleviate the cost of shipping materials greater distances, Knuth is still urging communities take other precautions in dealing with diminishing landfill capacity. In a recent report he authored titled “Implications of diminishing landfill disposal capacity in Massachusetts,” he also suggests implementing controls to reduce the amount of waste being produced, such as reusing containers and having a total separation of recyclable material.

The Tanzio Road transfer station has a proposed construction start date of July 30, 2019 and an estimated completion date of May 31, 2020.

Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter @PeterJasinski53

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