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Landfill puts new shreddr to work

Shredder will reduce size of incoming waste to landfill by 60 percent

by: KATE WENNERSTROM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - A new shredder at the Crook County Landfill shreds wast into piles 60 percent smaller

A recent addition to the Crook County Landfill has the ability to reduce piles of garbage to less than half their size, delaying the immediate need for a new pit.
   "It shreds everything that we've got coming in and reduces it by about 60 percent," landfill manager Alan Keller said. "You name it - concrete, steel, and tires - anything that comes in. It just grinds it up and shreds it out to be about a six-inch piece."
   After hearing about the enormous wood-chipper-like shredder, Keller ordered the eating machine on a trial basis from Austria.
   "They're so far advanced over in Europe that every little thing to make trash smaller helps, because they don't have much space for garbage over there," Keller added.
   A few days after requesting the shredder, it arrived at the Powell Butte site and was quickly put to work.
   "It has 170 hours on it already," Keller said, noting that they have only had to rotate the teeth one time. Once the 34 teeth have been turned three times, they need to be replaced at a cost of $30 each.
   In addition to shrinking the mass of everyday waste, the landfill employees have been trying to find something that the $700,000 shredder won't bite through.
   "We had a riding lawn mower that came in, so we threw it in there and it came out in little chunks," Keller said. "Bathtubs, water heaters - the other day we had a cast iron bath tub and it came out in little chunks. Those giant tires on the big tractors, we can put one of those in there and it'll just gobble it up and throw chunks out."
   To help with putting waste into the shredder, the landfill also purchased a new excavator for $170,000.
   "We had to buy this excavator along with it, but we can use the excavator for other things too," Keller added.
   One of the key benefits of the new equipment is to slow the pace in which the current pit, or cell, is filling up.
   "We're going to be digging in a new pit, but this will prolong the life of what we have now," Keller said. "So, it'll give us more space - give us more time before we have to spend a lot of money putting a new cell in. It'll prolong it by probably a couple years from when we need it."
   While the need for a new pit has been delayed, the $15 million project is still being planned.
   "The shredder won't save that cost, but it'll let us be able to get a little more revenue in order to afford the new cell," Keller continued.
   Now that the dollar signs are adding up, Keller mentioned that the Crook County Landfill is entirely self-sustaining.
   "The landfill supports itself," he said. "We'll generate enough rock to pay for it. It won't cost the county anything. That's the plan anyway. I try to think of every way possible to make it work. Everything we do is pretty much costless."
   By utilizing the materials collected, the landfill has created a successful recycling business.
   "We make compost out of yard debris and sell that," Keller said. "We have topsoil made out of plants and stuff that's processed. We sell it for $12 a yard. It's pretty nice material, like a potting soil. Six years ago, we excavated eight acres for the last cell. We crushed all that rock and that built Millican Road."
   With the last pit producing plenty of rock for re-sale, Keller is expecting the new 12-acre, 100 foot deep pit will pay for itself.
   "We're going to start right away, but we're also going to crush the rock out of it and use it," Keller added. "We'll start now, but we're not really having to do it now. We'll do it as we can and try to supply some rock. It's not that we have to do it, we can kind of take our time on this one."