Tanya Noble of Evanston Neighbors United presents the case against the Veolia solid waste transfer station to a gathering of Northwestern University students. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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Resentment against the local solid waste transfer station is growing. The station, located at 171 Church St., is operated by Veolia Environmental Services.

Some nearby residents have complained for years about the vibration and noise from trucks, about odor from the garbage and about increasing numbers of pests, which they attribute to the transfer station.

In the past two years, complaints about the transfer station have increased in strength and number, opposing not only on the impact of the station but its very presence in Evanston. The City of Evanston has become involved by monitoring complaints about the station and by imposing a tonnage fee on Veolia.

Northwestern University students have recently joined the ranks of protestors against the station. A white paper by seniors in the Brady Scholars program at Northwestern studied issues surrounding solid waste disposal in Evanston, in the U.S., and in the host cities where each of them studied abroad, said Professor Laurie Zoloth, who oversees the program. The Brady scholars learned that Northwestern’s garbage is transferred at Veolia’s Church Street transfer station and have begun a campus campaign to pressure Northwestern to choose a waste hauler that does not use the Church Street transfer station.

At a meeting at Northwestern held on April 2, Tanya Noble of Evanston Neighbors United presented the neighbors’ complaints against the transfer station, a timeline of events, and the hurdles the neighbors face in getting Veolia to address those complaints.

Ms. Nobel urged other students to join their cause. A few days later, a form letter to NU president Morton Schapiro about the University’s use of the transfer station was circulated by email requesting that each person sign it and send it to Mr. Schapiro. The letter stated that Northwestern’s garbage was transferred at the Church Street facility and that, when the present contract term is over, Mr. Schapiro should select a vendor that would “ensure that Northwestern University no longer dumps its garbage in the 5th Ward of Evanston. Instead, I ask you to select a vendor who is committed to dumping Northwestern’s solid waste in a properly sited solid waste facility. … The Veolia WTS in Evanston is out of step with most current environmental standards and I urge you to discontinue dumping at this improperly sited facility. …  

“You have the opportunity to show that Northwestern is an ethical and moral leader who cares deeply about its impact on surrounding neighbors. I urge you to demonstrate your leadership on this critical health, safety, and environmental issue by ensuring that Northwestern no longer dumps garbage in our community.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...