Illinois AG Appeals Order On Toxic-Waste Landfill
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing a decision that would put a central Illinois landfill a step closer to storing toxic waste over an aquifer that provides water for about 750,000 people.
Madigan's office said Friday that she appealed last year's Illinois Pollution Control Board order allowing the Clinton Landfill to store cancer-causing PCBs. The appeal was filed this week in state Appellate Court in Springfield. Clinton is 40 miles west of Champaign.
The complainants in the appeal include the cities of Champaign, Urbana, Bloomington, Normal, and Decatur, the village of Savoy, and Champaign and Piatt Counties.
Champaign Mayor Don Gerard calls this appeal a victory. He said the IPCB determined it didn't want to rule on the case, stating it didn't have precedence. Gerard said all parties against the PCB's proposal had a better chance in court.
"It's a reboot, and a chance to go after them again," he said. "To be honest, I don't think anyone's ever tried to put a toxic waste dump over a water supply, so there's not a heck of a lot in place."
Madigan says the landfill plan is a threat to the Mahomet Aquifer.
A subsidiary of Peoria-based Area Disposal owns the landfill and did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has said it would install a liner to protect the aquifer.
The landfill plan still needs federal approval.
The DeWitt County Board is staying silent on a proposal to allow PCB's into the Clinton Landfill.
County Board members voted eight-to-four Thursday night against a proposal to formally present a consultant's report critical of the PCB proposal at a federal EPA hearing next month. The hearing on the Clinton Landfill's request for a chemical waste permit --- which would allow PCB's --- is scheduled for April 13th from 6 to 8 PM, at Clinton High School.
One reason cited for voting down a formal presentation is the cost of bringing consultant G. Fred Lee to Clinton to present an updated version of his report. But another one is a 2008 clause in DeWitt County's agreement with landfill owner Peoria Disposal, to remain neutral on their application for a chemical waste permit. County Board member Sherrie Brown made the motion for the consultant's report, and would also like to see the neutrality clause rescinded.
"But ultimately it would lead to litigation," Brown said. "So I believe that in discussing this openly with my fellow board members, that they believe it would lead to litigation, and they're not willing to look at that."
Brown said she thinks the neutrality clause is not legally binding, because it concerns county board policy matters, but DeWitt County State's Attorney Richard Kortiz disagrees.
"When we start talking policy, the way I would look at this, that is more of a nebulous situation," Koritz said. "Maybe more into specific employment issues, or benefits, or we're going to put this area zoned this way or this area zoned that way. Those are policies, as opposed to contractual obligations."
The neutrality clause is part of DeWitt County's agreement with Peoria Disposal that sets out host fees paid to county government for the Clinton Landfill's operation.Koritz said that before the clause was added, the Clinton Landfill's request for a chemical waste permit had the county board's implicit support. But public opposition to the permit has grown, as reflected in the vote on two non-binding resolutions in 2008. Opponents say PCB's would eventually leak out of the Clinton Landfill, threatening groundwater supplies from the Mahomet Aquifer.
Meanwhile, opponents of a chemical waste permit for the Clinton Landfill argue that staying neutral on the issue won't protect DeWitt County from litigation. George Wissmiller of the local group WATCH predicts that the county will face litigation, from whichever side doesn't get its way in the dispute.