Western Lion and Service Disposal Landfill Sites
Controlled Prairie Burn
Illinois EPA has scheduled the first controlled prairie burn for early to mid-April 2007 (dependent on
certain weather conditions) at the former Western Lion/Service Disposal Landfill site. A burn was
scheduled for spring of 2005, but was cancelled due to lack of adequate vegetation. The site is located
at the intersection of Coles County roads 1100E (Loxa Road) and 900N (Route 316) about 1 ½ miles
northeast of Mattoon. The controlled burn, which may take one to three days, is necessary to eliminate
accumulated dead vegetation and to stimulate new growth and diversity in the plant life. It will also
eliminate invasive plant species, which have shallower root systems than the mix of prairie plants on
the landfill cap.
Prior to the construction of the new landfill cap, erosion was obvious over much of the landfill, waste
was exposed, and rainwater moved freely through the waste materials to create leachate that
threatened the area groundwater and Riley Creek, a Class A stream. Water ponded on the site and
allowed leachate to concentrate, making for unsafe conditions for area wildlife or any persons who
might trespass onto the site. (Leachate forms from water traveling through the landfill and contacting
Western Lion Landfill and Service Disposal Landfill are among the 33 abandoned landfills identified by
Illinois EPA in 1998 as having environmental problems that needed immediate attention. The Illinois
State Legislature responded in 1999 by appropriating funds to investigate and conduct corrective
actions, if necessary, on these landfills. Illinois EPA has spent approximately $4.5 million on repairs to
the Service Disposal Landfill and Western Lion Landfill.
Why is it necessary to
burn the plants on
top of the landfill?
By burning the old vegetation, the prairie plants are strengthened and
become better established on the soil landfill cap. These hardy plants have
spreading root systems that hold the soil in place so that erosion does not
damage the cap and lead to problems such as those (mentioned above)
that existed before the extensive site work. Additionally, the burn assists
in the removal of thatch (dead plant material) and benefits the soil
through the addition of potash, a fertilizer.
Under what authority
will Illinois EPA
conduct the burn?
An Open Burning Permit has been issued by the Illinois EPA for this burn.
Will the local fire
involved with the
Yes, the Loxa and the Mattoon Fire Departments have been notified about
this burn. The Illinois EPA’s contractor has provided a copy of the protocol
for the burn, and we expect fire department staff to be present and will
monitor all safety factors
Will the gas vents on
the landfill be a
Access to the site will be restricted to essential burn project personnel.
While arrangements will be made for members of the news media to
observe the burn from a distance, Illinois EPA does not encourage
members of the general public to visit the site during the burn due to
safety concerns and a lack of parking.
Can anyone view the
burn, or will access
Initially, burning is usually necessary each year or so for the first three
years after the prairie plants are put in. Once the plants become
established, burning is recommended approximately every three years to
eliminate invasive species.
Who has been Besides the site contact list, which includes area residents, local, state and
Fact Sheet #4 - Western Lion and Service Disposal #1 Landfill Sites Page 1 of 2
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