Aquifer-protection bill might get hearing soon

SPRINGFIELD — A bill that would allow any area county to block the disposal of hazardous wastes at a landfill in Clinton could get a hearing before an Illinois House committee next week.

The House Environment and Energy Committee is scheduled to consider HB 6153, cosponsored by Reps. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, on Wednesday. But Jakobsson said Friday that an amendment to the bill is being drafted that could delay the hearing.

"The bill will be amended to make it stronger," she said. "A lot of people are working on this so we don't know when it will be ready nor what it will say."

But she said she was confident the legislation could clear the General Assembly before its scheduled May 31 adjournment.

The bill wasn't introduced until April 16 — after the deadline for House bills to be passed out of the House. But Jakobsson said "we were lucky to get out of the Rules Committee.

"I left a message with the speaker's staff about how important the bill is to so many people. The next thing I knew it was assigned to a committee," Jakobsson said.

A number of area lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, are supporting the bill that, as currently written, would allow any county located over a portion of the Mahomet Aquifer to stop the disposal of hazardous wastes.

"Thousands of Illinois residents rely on this water source and have no say in the dumping of a harmful chemical," Jakobsson said. "My concern is about the health of people who consume this water and the environmental impact to the eight counties sharing water."

Under HB 6153, any construction plan to build a pollution control facility above an aquifer would have to be approved by the county board of each county located within the aquifer's boundaries. Under current law, only DeWitt County, where the landfill is located, would need to approve construction plans for a new facility.

Several area governments and politicians have expressed concerns about a chemical-waste storage unit proposed for the landfill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to allow the disposal of PCB-contaminated material at the site.

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