Representatives from Evanston Neighbors United met with Northwestern students at the John Evans Alumni Center on Monday to raise awareness of their campaign against Veolia Waste Management’s hazardous dumping ground in Evanston.
The informational meeting was held by the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life, whose 2012 graduating class completed a three-year long research project on the issue. The 17-member class invited student leaders to the Monday meeting to introduce ENU and pass the torch along to interested student groups.
All trash generated by Northwestern is sent to the Veolia Waste Transfer Station. The dumping ground, which straddles Church Street in west Evanston, sits dangerously close to a residential neighborhood. Those living in the area have repeatedly complained about the pungent odor, noise and dust created from the dumping.
“We shouldn’t be contributing to this political, environmental and economic problem,” said Maria Brackin, a member of the Brady Class of 2012. “Coming from that perspective, we have a moral obligation.”
The facility is situated on 2.7 acres of land with 500-750 tons of trash being dumped daily, and should use a location ten times its current size, according to a recommendation by the EPA. As part of their research, the Brady Scholars visited another nearby Veolia plant, where the conditions were on par with EPA standards.
According to Tanya Noble, one of the founding members of ENU, these hazards present a serious racial injustice. She said her organization, created in January 2011, believes that the Veolia plant is taking advantage of the historically underprivileged, largely African-American community that it is located in. With the help of Northwestern and community members, she said she hopes that ENU can force Veolia out of Evanston.
“We were trying to identify their clients and reduce the trash that’s coming in,” said Noble.
Brady Program class members have proposed that the University terminate its contract with Veolia Waste Management and opt for another service at a slightly higher price. They have a meeting scheduled with President Schapiro for discussion on the subject April 4.
Veolia refuses to release the names the rest of their clients, and Northwestern only accounts for two of the 30 trucks that dump in the facility each day. ENU is in desperate need of volunteers who can sit at the Veolia plant and track where trucks come in each day.
Brady Program Director Laurie Zoloth hopes that the University’s expertise and the students’ dedication to help the community will benefit ENU’s mission.
“I don’t care if we were dumping fluffy white balls,” said Zoloth. “You just don’t do that on your neighbor’s lawn.”