Quinn moves to block PCB disposal

Quinn moves to block PCB disposal


SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois EPA is asking DeWitt County officials for more information in order to block the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at a Clinton landfill.

In a letter dated today and made public by Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, the state EPA’s top lawyer asked DeWitt County Board Chair Sherrie Brown and DeWitt County State’s Attorney Karle Koritz for more information about a county board meeting 12 years ago where officials from Peoria Disposal Company sought a landfill permit.

The landfill is located directly above the Mahomet Aquifer, the drinking water source for an estimated 750,000 central Illinoisans.

But two state senators said today that Quinn’s move was overdue.

“It’s about damn time,” said Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. “I brought this exact thing up at a public hearing last week in Champaign. I said I think it’s great that Gov. Quinn last month sent the letter to the U.S. EPA (asking it to deny Peoria Disposal’s request to dispose of PCBs at the landfill). We appreciate that, but if he really wanted to do something he could just direct (the state) EPA to revoke the existing permit because there was never a local siting hearing done. And the position that he has taken, his EPA has taken to protect that permit now jeopardizes our water supply but is contrary to what even (Attorney General) Lisa Madigan says. She has signed onto the local consortium’s lawsuit.”

Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, also acknowledged that citizens and officials have pushed the state to act for years.

"I think we've seen the result of months or years of citizen's action to stop this finally being heard by the governor. As someone who attended many of the hearings and has been involved in efforts to curtail this, I'm glad to see the governor take this action," Frerichs said. "I don't want to focus on how long this has taken, but the fact that action is being taken. The most important thing is that action was taken before they started dumping PCBs over our aquifer."

Champaign County Board chair Al Kurtz, a Champaign Democrat, said the governor should revoke the landfill's license to accept hazardous wastes.

"I'm certainly glad that the governor is now taking action but I think the best avenue for him to take with all the documentation we already have about the dangers of PCBs is that he should direct the Illinois EPA to suspend those (landfill) licenses immediately," Kurtz said. "If he needs more information we can provide it to him through the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium."

 In the letter made public today, Illinois EPA chief counsel John Kim notes that the state EPA approved Peoria Disposal’s application to dump PCBs at the landfill “if authorized to accept those wastes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

“Since approving that permit application,” Kim writes, “the Agency has received information that calls into question the extent of the DeWitt County Board’s September 12, 2002, siting approval, specifically whether the siting approval included approval to accept PCB wastes in (federal Toxic Substances Control Act)-regulated concentration.”

In a press release accompanying the letter, Quinn’s office said that the action “is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“The Mahomet Aquifer supplies more than 100 million gallons of water daily to 15 Illinois counties and it needs to be protected,” Quinn said. “Blocking PCB waste is the right thing to do for our environment and for hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents.”

Quinn’s office said that state law allows the Illinois EPA to modify a landfill permit upon the discovery that a decision was made using false or misleading information. 

“In the transcript of a public hearing on the landfill permit from 2002, representatives of the Peoria Disposal Company testified to the DeWitt County Board that the Clinton Landfill would not accept PCBs at federally regulated concentrations. Following that public hearing, the DeWitt County Board approved the location for the landfill, and the county board’s action was the basis for IEPA approval of subsequent permitting requests from the company,” Quinn’s office said today.

But Rose said the landfill’s application to become a “chemical waste unit” required a second public hearing by the DeWitt County Board that never occurred.

“The point I made at that public hearing was that he could revoke the permit now,” Rose said. “All we’re doing now is wasting taxpayer dollars.”

Rose said he had believes his remarks at a July 12 public hearing in Champaign may have prompted the governor to act.

“It’s oddly peculiar that it’s a week after I got up in front of the room and said that, including a lot of the people in his party,” he said. “But I would suggest that it’s more about looking to November (the gubernatorial election) that anything else. He could have done this at anytime in the last four years. Dozens of us in the Legislature sent letters pointing out all these problems over the last few years.”

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787 wrote on July 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

If you have Area Disposal picking up your trash, you're supporting the company who is the problem here.

Area Disposal  = Peoria Disposal = Clinton Landfill.   They're all one and the same.

787 wrote on July 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I was a customer of Klean Way Disposal for years, and was pleased.

When Area bought Klean Way out, the change was awful.   The service was horrible, the garbage trucks would be going as fast as they could through the neighborhood, many times after dark, picking up the trash... usually they were a day late in picking up the recyclables, and complaints fell on deaf ears... quite honestly, they didn't care.  

When I told them that I was done with them, they said that they would send a truck by to pick up the wheeled toter.  Instead of re-using it, they threw the toter into the back of a garbage truck and compacted it with all of the other trash.  What a waste.   

With that kind of a wasteful mentality, it makes me wonder what they do with the recyclables that they collect.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if they just dump it all in the landfill, and simply get rid of it.

Lennhoff wrote on July 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

This is an important step, but it is not enough. Gov. Quinn needs to direct IL EPA to completely rescind Clinton Landfill's permit to receive ANY chemical waste. Since 2011, toxic Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) waste has been going into the Clinton Landfill above the Mahomet Aquifer. This waste is VERY dangerous -- every bit as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than PCBs. Plus, MGP waste can eat through the "state of the art" landfill system that is supposed to protect the Aquifer: 3 layers of plastic and a three-foot thick layer of clay. When MGP waste eats through that, it creates pathways for more toxic contamination to go directly into the Aquifer.

And yes, Clinton Landfill is owned by PDC / Area Disposal, and you can boycott Area Disposal and its subsidiaries, as well as take other actions to help protect OUR Aquifer. Here is where you can go to take action:

http://www.healthcareconsumers.org/index.php?action=Display%20Page&id=1020

https://www.facebook.com/boycottareadisposal

Here is where you can go to learn more:

http://www.healthcareconsumers.org/index.php?action=Display%20Page&id=1035

jthartke wrote on July 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Glad to see this decision by the governor and glad to see everyone agrees that this is good government regulation of a private industry. Sad, however, to see Senator Rose go for a political cheap shot when this is a perfect time for people to stand united and nonpartisan.

787 wrote on July 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Are you sure you're not confusing passion for a political cheap shot?