The following was submitted by resident Chester Suchecki.
The other day I was invited to tour the Northside Carting waste transfer and recycling facility in North Andover. I must admit that deep down I expected to see and smell a dirty nasty smelling transfer facility similar to what is in Salem presently. I also had this thought of what I had seen on the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs.
Since I don’t have a car, Northside’s PR man Eric lipsky picked me up at my home in Salem and drove me to the facility. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was how clean and orderly the site was. Robbie George, one of the owners of the company, greeted me in the office. Those of you who don’t know Robbie would think he was a stuffy company President, but no — he is a down to earth guy who you will find in the scale house or on site every Saturday in the Salem facility. So, if you have questions about what Northside would like to do for Salem at the transfer station, go down there on a Saturday and ask him.
Now, for the good part. We talked about the capping of the ash and the amount of refuse that the new facility is permitted for and types and what actually goes through the Salem site. Here is the number one fact — the trash that is picked up on trash day in your neighborhoods does not go to the transfer station in Salem; it goes directly to North Andover. In the future, the Salem Transfer Station will take in all of Salem’s curbside trash, which will eliminate one of the three trucks currently picking up trash in Salem daily.
Anyway, we entered the transfer/recycle building and went up to the catwalk above the intake area and below us was where a loader was putting refuse into a machine that made all the trash to a maximum size where after it went to a series of conveyors that separated the major bulk of everything into separate items. Robbie and Bill Thomson (one of the other owners of the company), explained how the machines did its tasks, but it still baffles me.
We went further up the catwalk stairs to a room where the diligent workers of Northside did the final separations that the machines did not catch (These guys work their butts off to make sure there is nothing that doesn’t belong in the final pulverizer gets away from them). At this point, all the recyclable material is out of the trash and there isn’t very much left. This gets dumped into a huge bin/stall where a very large loader fills up a 100-yard trailer to get transported to an incinerating facility in Maine.
The material that was separated ends up into its separate stalls and shipped off to respective recycling companies in New England. I bet by now you are wondering how much of this gets recycled and what gets incinerated. This part really impressed me — 89 percent of the trash is recycled, and this is from construction trash, industrial trash and residential trash. What isn’t recycled is just the plain old dirt, but that gets used for covering the landfill where ash is sent. This means that no untouched dirt is used for cover at any capping at the landfill. The other 11 percent is sent to the incinerator.
After the tour of the transfer building, we went over to the drop off area where residents are able drop off yard waste, electronics, white goods, plastics, metals paper etc. This is in an area that is clean and safe and very orderly. You can also drop off car batteries, paints and solvents. This whole operation is user and environmentally friendly.
One thing I just remembered about the transfer building — this is very important and will be part of the new Salem transfer station. Any drainage that ends up on the floor of the transfer station goes into a tank that, when full, is tested for toxins regularly and disposed of in a safe manner.
I could not smell any odor whatsoever coming from the building. The other thing I noticed is the lack of constant truck traffic. Don’t get me wrong on this point, but more trucks go down Derby Street than they do here, yet this place is in constant motion. In Salem, aggregate generates more traffic.
So here it is the bottom line:
If I were a councilor in the City of Salem, I would vote for Northside Carting and their transfer station proposal, which includes a cap of the ash pile, which the City was supposed to do way back when. As a resident who has seen the end result of what the Salem transfer station sends them, I’ve learned that most transfer stations accept about 1,000 tons per day while the new Salem Transfer Station would take in 400. Right now, Salem is operating at about 150 tons per week. Northside will have to do a lot of selling to other cities and towns to get their contractors to bring their trash here.
As it stands now, the Salem transfer station is a smelly, dirty and environmentally unsound eyesore that, as a resident, I am ashamed of what the City officials of the past let this place turn into. The fine at $2,000 a day is too expensive for our wallets.
Lifelong resident of Salem
27 Charter St.
Northside contact for tours and info
Eric Lipsky, 978-686-8604