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Veolia has overstayed its welcome in Evanston. In its operation of the transfer station on Church Street just east of Darrow Avenue, the company has not been a good neighbor. At least 50 trucks rumble along Church Street during the six or so hours each day the transfer station is in operation. Residents say they have seen an increased rodent population, and a stench hangs over the adjoining neighborhood on hot summer days.
This is not what the neighbors bargained for when the City of Evanston allowed Active Service Corporation, a locally owned business, to handle community-generated waste from the site. A series of corporate acquisitions – Active Service to Browning Ferris to Veolia – diminishing oversight from both the federal and state environmental protection agencies, and apparent callousness on the part of Veolia have brought us to the point where it is no longer reasonable for Veolia Environmental Services to maintain a solid waste transfer station in this residential neighborhood.
A multi-billion-dollar, multi-national company, Veolia has received many environmental awards from its host cities. This makes it all the more puzzling that its transfer station here is such a blight on the neighhood and the environment. The injustice of the location – in a poor and minority residential neighborhood – seems to be easily overlooked. Complaints, ignored for years, seem to be met now with a veneer of cooperation, while the station itself – the source of all the problems – continues to fester.
Fines are contested, or, if paid, appear to be considered just another cost of doing business. Terms like environmental racism, morality and social justice apparently slip down into the company’s sludge.
That’s enough. The garbage party must stop. Since Veolia has plenty of money to string out any lawsuits and fight any attempt at controls that our poor efforts can muster, it surely has the money to put an end to the problem in a decent manner.
Pack up, Veolia; clean up and turn out the lights on the Evanston transfer station.