News Local/State

3 Local Govts. Approve Landfill Consent Decree; 3 Delay Action

Map of the Mahomet Aquifer

Map of the Mahomet Aquifer, the underground water source providing drinking water for much of central Illinois (Illinois State Water Survey)

The Piatt County Board is the latest local government to approve a proposed consent decree meant to keep future hazardous waste out of the Clinton Landfill. The vote on Wednesday morning was 4 to 1, with new county board member Renee Freundt abstaining. The vote in Piatt County came the morning after city councils in Normal and Decatur voted unanimously to approve the proposed consent decree. Also Tuesday night, the Urbana City Council, Champaign County Board and Forsyth Village Board all delayed action until future meetings.

The local bodies are among 14 members of a coalition that are considering the proposal. Under its terms, the coalition members would end their legal battle against the Clinton Landfill. The landfill would also give up efforts to take in both PCB’s and additional manufactured gas plant waste, and add new safeguards to the gas plant waste it already has.

Attorneys for the coalition say the Consent Decree would be a step forward to protect the Mahomet Aquifer, and would provide more safeguards than their lawsuit against the Clinton Landfill could. But critics say the consent decree would give gives too much away; they want to continue efforts to force the landfill to remove its MGP waste. Opponents who spoke at meetings where the consent decree was considered Tuesday and Wednesday asked for the consent decree to be rejected or at least delayed until after a public meeting on the issue, set for Saturday morning September 19th from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the Champaign Public Library

Piatt County Board Chairman Randy Jo Keith (R-Monticello) voted for the proposed consent decree.  He said he would have preferred a settlement that kept the hazardous waste out of a landfill that is located above the Mahomet Aquifer. But Keith says he deferred to the legal team which the coalition hired.

“They say it’s our best deal”, said Keith. “Do I wish every drop of that could be cleaned up? Yeah. But that’s what you hire a third party lawyer for, is to represent you to get the best deal you can. And that’s what they tell me we got.”

Besides Normal and Decatur, city councils in Champaign, Tuscola and Monticello --- and the McLean County Board --- have endorsed the consent decree.

But other local governments are holding off on a final decision. Action on the consent decree was tabled until September 21st at Tuesday night’s Urbana City Council meeting by Aldermen Aaron Ammons and Charlie Smyth --- their action did not require a council vote. The Champaign County Board’s Committee of the Whole decided by voice vote Tuesday night to delay action until an October meeting. And the Forsyth Village Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to defer action until more information could be gathered. Forsyth Village Clerk Amy Goodman said that would likely be until the September 21st meeting.

The Savoy Village Board voted previously to delay action on the proposed consent decree until September 23rd.