Jun 09, 2023

Municipal garbage transfer station proposed in Ford Heights where tire fire broke out

A municipal waste transfer station is proposed in Ford Heights at the site of a large tire fire in May 2016, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

An application received by the state agency seeks to operate the transfer site at 1703 Cottage Grove Ave., according to the IEPA.

Transfer stations can be used to accept multiple loads of municipal garbage, which is then consolidated in large trucks and hauled to landfills.

It was not immediately clear how large of an operation it would be or how soon the IEPA might act on the application.

A complete copy of the application was not immediately available from the IEPA, which refused to release it without a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The Daily Southtown has filed a request.

The property is just south of U.S. 30 and east of the Ford Motor Co. stamping plant in Chicago Heights.

The fire began at a scrap recycling operation, when a spark from an adjacent business set a pile of mulched tires on fire, generating smoke that could be seen in downtown Chicago and northwest Indiana.

The fire involved about half the 7,800 tons of shredded tires stored at the 10-acre site, according to officials.

Firefighters work to extinguish a tire fire May 24, 2016, at a recycling center in Ford Heights. (Warren Skalski/Chicago Tribune)

Firefighters had trouble getting enough water to battle the fire, and fire department tanker trucks filled up at the Ford plant, officials said.

Firefighters from Chicago Heights, Matteson, Flossmoor, Glenwood, Steger and the Crete Township Fire Protection District were among those who battled the blaze,

The site is also adjacent to a former trash-to-energy incinerator that burned shredded tires as a fuel source but closed in August 2011.

That incinerator had come into being when the state was looking to encourage development of alternative fuel sources, which led to projects such as the trash-to-energy incinerator in Robbins.

After the tire incinerator closed, efforts in the General Assembly were made to have state regulations approve shredded tires as a renewable or reusable energy source, but that stalled.

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