Landfill, compost center see post-storm influx

Officials emphasize waste management rules; compost facility nearing capacity

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - Last week’s tornado tossed around pieces of buildings, metal, cars and more, and this week Marshalltown residents have streamed into the Marshall County Landfill after clearing their property of debris. Landfill officials said Saturday and Sunday saw about 500 tons of trash dumped at the facility.

Playground equipment in streets. Trees rammed through houses. Debris everywhere.

That was the scene immediately after an EF-3 tornado shook much of northern Marshalltown last week and residents are now taking charge of cleaning up their property.

“The City of Marshalltown is picking up the tab on the residential trash from the storm,” said Marshall County Landfill Manager Don Ballalatak.

He said the landfill has seen a large increase in customers since the storm ripped through town last week. While the facility averages 130 tons of trash per day annually, Ballalatak said its intake rose to about 500 tons combined from Saturday and Sunday.

“Everyone’s trying to be patient, we’re trying to get folks in and out,” Ballalatak said. He said the landfill will run on the extended hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. “for the foreseeable future” as Marshalltown residents continue to stream in with loads of waste.

There are rules and procedures for landfill customers to follow.

“We’re just asking customers to cover their load … try to separate as best they can metal and tires and stuff like that,” Ballalatak said. “The main thing is tarping their load.”

Additionally, he said waste such as tree limbs that fell on people’s property during the tornado should be taken to the Marshalltown Compost Facility at 900 Woodland St. The cost for those services are also being covered by the city.

Ballalatak said customers entering the landfill just west of the city on Marshalltown Boulevard will be asked to drive onto the scale outside the facility office and await the flash of a green light to go up to the landfill and dump.

“We’re actually asking folks to give us a thumbs-up if they have storm debris,” Ballalatak said. He said loads of regular residential trash from unaffected areas will still see a regular charge assessed for dumping based on weight.

Once dumping is complete, Ballalatak said patrons will again weigh in before going on their way. As the landfill is still busy with post-storm service, he said customers should expect longer waits and lines when coming to dump.

The Marshalltown Compost Facility is also seeing an influx of waste. Marshalltown Public Works Director Justin Nickel said the facility accepts “only organic tree material” and that all other waste should be taken to the landfill.

While there is no specific rule for covering compost waste, Nickel said it is important that patrons take care to not let tree limbs fall on roads.

“Please make sure that you get all of your branches and trees to the compost center,” he said.

While he emphasized residents that can get rid of tree waste should do so, Nickel also said the compost facility is nearing capacity.

“We probably will fill to capacity within the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said Monday afternoon. “Once the compost facility is full, we will close.”

Nickel said it could be up to four days until surveying equipment arrives at the compost center to report data to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

He said he’s waiting on state support for a tree grinder to clear more room for compost, but said there is no specific timetable set for the equipment’s arrival. Nickel said the city is working to find alternative sites for residents with tree waste once the facility fills up.

Additionally, he said it will be “days or weeks” before city personnel can help clean up residents’ properties of tree waste. It will be “weeks or months” before the city can help clean up construction waste on properties.

“Citizens need to be patient, we are still making sure we get streets cleared,” he said. Nickel said it’s important that residents capable of moving construction waste off their property and to the landfill should do so.

For more information on the Marshall County Landfill, visit www.marshallcountylandfill.org. For more on compost management, visit www.marshalltown-ia.gov/334/Compost-Facility


Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com