© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

GFL Environmental proposes a way forward for Peoria County's Landfill 3

Green For Life Environmental Inc., the Canadian waste management firm that bought Peoria Disposal Company last year, has withdrawn its request to delay construction on Peoria City/County Landfill No. 3. The new landfill will be built adjacent to the other two landfills, west of Edwards.
Joe Deacon
The new Landfill 3 will be built adjacent to the other two landfills, west of Edwards.

The Peoria City/County Landfill Committee is chipping away at starting construction for Landfill 3, but the uncertain footprint of historic mining operations still hangs over the process.

After a pause and a breach of contract notice, construction partner GFL Environmental is back at the table. At a committee meeting Wednesday, GFL Area Landfill Director Tim Curry shared the results of a peer review of the investigation work done on the site and their plans moving forward.

“There are still areas that were potentially mined that may remain under the exterior of the site,” Curry said.

The Black Jewel No. 2 Mine has been a cause of headaches for the Landfill 3 project. Its appearance on an Illinois State Geological Survey, or ISGS, document halted initial construction plans last year. Later, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources investigation concluded the Black Jewel was likely in a different coal seam on the site than previously thought.

As of February 2024, ISGS updated their information to reflect the mine’s presence in the Herrin Coal seam, rather than the deeper Springfield Coal seam. The belief of the Landfill Committee following this update was that construction could proceed at the site outside of Edwards, as later strip mining of the Herrin Seam removed any potentially concerning voids left behind by Black Jewel No. 2.

However, emails between GFL Environmental and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency show there are still a few more steps to take. The independent peer review undertaken by Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., commissioned by GFL, did not conclusively prove that there are no leftover voids from the Black Jewel. The report recommends additional work to check, as well as investigations into more potential underground mining in the Springfield Coal seam at the far northern end of the site.

Last Friday, Curry says, GFL submitted a “significant modification” to their original permit application with the IEPA. The plan proposes the company starts construction on Landfill 3 in the middle of the site, while also continuing the investigation on the edges with IDNR or a private drilling company.

Curry says the majority of the first two phases of construction are on land below the elevation of the Herrin seam, meaning all mining-related hazards there should be gone.

The IEPA has 90 days to review the new application, but Curry says GFL has a meeting with the government agency scheduled to see if there’s any way to expedite the process.

In the meantime, Landfill 2 continues to fill.

A representative of Waste Management told the committee that, pending a flyover check of available space in July, the current estimate is Landfill 2 will be filled by the end of 2024.

Curry told the committee, if everything proceeds exactly on schedule and weather permits, construction could be finished on Landfill 3 in Spring 2026 at the earliest.

The Committee has explored multiple fixes to the issue, bridging the gap between the close of Landfill 2 and the eventual construction of Landfill 3. These include the use of transfer stations, mitigation measures to slow the fill of Landfill 2 and the use of other area landfills.

It’s still uncertain what impact, if any, this will have on consumer use of waste disposal services in Peoria County.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.