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Federal EPA: No Action On Clinton PCBs For Now

Sign in front of a lawn in Clinton, protesting the PCB waste.

In this June 20, 2012 file photo, a sign is seen on the front lawn of a home in DeWitt, Ill., protesting the possibility of the nearby Clinton Landfill receiving toxic chemicals. Communities that rely on a large central Illinois aquifer say Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to block disposal of PCBs at the Clinton Landfill might not do enough to protect their drinking water. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

The U.S. EPA has ruled that it won't issue a chemical waste permit to accept PCB waste in the Clinton Landfill.  This story is updated, with comments from the Illinois EPA.

The owners of the landfill, Peoria Disposal, had sought the permit.  A number of local officials, state and federal lawmakers have urged the EPA to block the plan to disposit the PCB's in the landfill, which sits above the Mahomet Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 15 counties.

The U.S EPA's decision came after the state agency learned local approval of the landfill in 2002 by the DeWitt County Board didn't include PCBs.

The following statement was issued Wednesday.

"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.  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."

Quinn issued a statement of his own Wednesday night.  "The U.S. EPA did the right thing today for nearly 800,000 central Illinois residents by affirming that hazardous wastes have no place near our precious drinking water," he said.  "Along with the residents of central Illinois, our state, local and federal government all now agree – we must protect the Mahomet Aquifer from the dangers of PCBs."

Last Friday, Peoria Disposal announced it would appeal the ruling by the state EPA, banning the Clinton Landfill from accepting PCB waste, as well that from manufactured gas plants.

The request before the federal EPA had been pending for several months. 

UPDATE:  Illinios EPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said if the state appeal is upheld by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, the company will have to start over with its request for storing PCBs with the DeWitt County Board.

“Landfill owners will have to go back through local siting, to obtain the correct permit, and even then, the clause still exists in the modified permit that they would still need to go back and seek federal approval for disposal of PCB’s," he said.

Biggs said Peoria Disposal has yet to file its appeal with the state EPA. 

Categories: Environment, Government, Health