U.S. EPA won't grant Clinton landfill PCB permit


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CHICAGO — The federal chemical waste permit that a DeWitt County landfill had been waiting on for years will not move forward, the U.S. EPA said on Wednesday.

The decision is based on the state EPA's action at the end of July to ban certain chemicals at Clinton Landfill, which sits above the underground source of drinking water for 750,000 central Illinoisans. Before that, the landfill had been waiting for seven years for the federal EPA to approve a request to start accepting polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated waste.

The landfill needs both a state and federal permit to accept the regulated chemical garbage. The state permit has now been rescinded, which is a decision the landfill has said it will appeal.

And the U.S. EPA said on Wednesday that the state permit is a prerequisite to the federal permit.

"In light of the Illinois EPA's recent permit modification for Clinton Landfill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not intend to proceed at this time with a determination on Clinton Landfill's application to accept polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste," the U.S. EPA said in a statement. "On July 31, 2014, the Illinois EPA modified the permit that the state issued in 2008 to Clinton Landfill. The Illinois EPA's permit modification prohibits the acceptance of federally-regulated PCB wastes at Clinton Landfill unless certain conditions are met, including the approval of the local siting authority. Clinton Landfill applied to U.S. EPA in 2007 for approval under the Toxic Substances Control Act to accept PCB waste at the Clinton Landfill in DeWitt County, Illinois."

The U.S. EPA issued draft approval of that permit in 2011 — final approval has been pending since then. With that final approval, the landfill could have started burying PCB-contaminated waste, much of which is dredged from waters in the Great Lakes region.

But that draft approval came around the time public officials in Champaign County and across central Illinois started pushing back. After three years' of political pressure, Gov. Pat Quinn at the end of July directed to state EPA to rescind its permission for the landfill to bury PCB-contaminated waste.