Attorney general joins opposition to Clinton landfill proposal

CHICAGO — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined with a number of central Illinois governments to ask the state Pollution Control Board to send a proposal for a chemical waste unit at the Clinton landfill back to the DeWitt County Board for review.

The attorney general's office filed a motion to intervene in the Pollution Control Board case on Friday, saying that it wanted "to ensure compliance with the statutory mandates as to the permitting and local siting approval for pollution control and hazardous waste disposal facilities."

The motion also said the attorney general wants to be able to respond to a request by Clinton Landfill Inc. to dismiss the complaint filed last month by the cites of Champaign, Urbana, Bloomington and Decatur, the village of Savoy, the town of Normal and Champaign and Piatt counties. The landfill operator filed a motion Dec. 5 to dismiss the case, and Madigan's office said it wanted to be able to respond to the motion.

"Our office has been investigating these concerns for several months before the complaint was filed and ... we were indeed asked to intervene on the side of the local governments," said Scott Mulford, a spokesman for Madigan.

Joseph Hooker, an attorney for the city of Champaign, welcomed the attorney general's interest in the case that local officials say is aimed at preventing the disposal of PCBs and other hazardous wastes at the landfill.

"The mayor (of Champaign, Don Gerard) sent a letter seeking that," said Hooker. "He wanted their involvement in this."

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, also said she was "encouraged" by the move.

"I'm pleased and I hope it helps all of us protect our drinking supply," she said.

Local officials are fighting the landfill on a number of fronts, arguing that dumping hazardous chemicals there threatens the Mahomet Aquifer, the water supply for an estimated 750,000 central Illinois residents. They also are working on separate state legislation and are asking federal officials to designate the aquifer as a "sole-source aquifer" that would require analysis of any proposed federally funded projects and any potential negative impacts on the aquifer.

The case before the Illinois Pollution Control Board contends that Clinton Landfill Inc. received approval from the DeWitt County Board in 2002 to operate a conventional solid waste landfill but did not seek approval to operate a chemical waste unit. The local government officials say the case should go back to the DeWitt County Board.

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