Champaign City Manager Steve Carter is in Monticello today, where an Illinois House committee is holding a hearing on a bill that would allow cities to block a proposal to site a chemical waste landfill in Clinton, above the Mahomet Aquifer.
Tom Kacich is there, too. He'll be covering the hearing for us today, so keep an eye out for his story.
The city manager is expected to support House Bill 6153, which would require that cities and counties located above an aquifer first approve of such a landfill before it can be built. Basically, it would give cities like Champaign and Urbana the right to deny the construction of a chemical waste unit like that proposed in Clinton, even though the cities do not have any jurisdiction in Clinton. But because Champaign and Urbana rely on the Mahomet Aquifer for drinking water, and because the landfill is proposed at a site above the aquifer, it brings the cities into the process.
City officials have said part of the reason they are now rushing to block the permit is because they were kept out of the loop for so long. This law would bring them into the loop and give them more authority over the approval of the landfill.
You might remember that Clinton Landfill has applied for a federal permit to bury PCBs in a landfill above the aquifer, which supplies drinking water to roughly 750,000 residents in central Illinois.
There are a few other movements afoot to try to block the landfill. Opponents worry the chemicals could breach the landfill walls and eventually leach into the water supply. Landfill officials say the unit is up to EPA standards and will be nearly impenetrable for hundreds of years.