Overview of the Waste-by-Rail System
Courtesy of LACSD
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The Mesquite Regional Landfill is part of a regional system being developed to efficiently move and dispose of waste at remote sites. Since the late 1980's, the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County and other public agencies have studied the use of remote sites, despite increased transportation costs, as landfill space in urban Southern California became increasingly difficult to permit. For some sites, such as the Mesquite Regional Landfill, rail is an efficient means of transportation.
Using trains to transport waste requires development of new infrastructure called a "waste-by-rail" system. This system integrates collection and sorting facilities, rail, and remote landfills. More specifically, the system includes:
Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFS)/Transfer Stations
Refuse collection trucks deliver their loads to MRFs/transfer stations where the waste will be processed for the recovery of recyclable materials and removal of hazardous waste or other unacceptable materials. The remaining or "residual" waste will be loaded into rail-ready shipping, or "intermodal", containers.
Loading Rail Yard
The rail-ready shipping containers will be trucked to a rail yard and loaded onto rail cars. Empty containers will be removed from the rail cars and trucked back to the MRFs/Transfer Stations.
A train will transport the containerized waste to an unloading rail yard at the landfill.
Unloading Rail Yard
At this yard adjacent to the landfill, loaded containers will be moved from train to trucks for transport to the landfill. In addition, empty containers will be placed onto the train for return trip to the "loading" rail yard.
Containers will be transported to the landfill where the waste will be unloaded, compacted, and covered daily.
The Mesquite Regional Landfill is fully permitted to accept residual solid waste transported from Southern California communities by rail. The approved landfill footprint of 2,290 acres will provide capacity for approximately 600 million tons of solid waste and 100 years of operation at a maximum of 20,000 tons per day. The permits allow 1,000 tons per day to be truck transported from Imperial County. The landfill became operational in 2008.