News Local/State

Bill Would Bar Hazardous Waste In Landfills With Runoff To Mahomet Aquifer

Carol Ammons

St. Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana), photographed in 2013, announcing her candidacy. (Sean Powers/WILL)

A bill aimed at protecting the Mahomet Aquifer from hazardous chemicals has been introduced in the Illinois House.

Urbana Democrat Carol Ammons’ measure (House Bill 1326) would bar landfills from accepting PCB waste or specified levels of manufactured gas plant waste, if their runoff goes into the Mahomet Aquifer. The legislation mentions the Mahomet Aquifer specifically, and not other aquifers in the state.

Although unnamed in the legislation, the ban would affect Peoria Disposal’s Clinton Landfill in DeWitt County. That landfill is seeking federal EPA approval to accept PCB’s, and accepted manufactured gas plant waste in the past. Former Governor Pat Quinn instituted a ban on both practices last year, but Ammons says she can’t count on Governor Bruce Rauner to continue those bans.

Ammons says it’s critical to protect the Mahomet Aquifer, which provides water to much of central Illinois from the Illinois River to the Indiana border.

“We are really concerned about the contamination issue for this water”, said Ammons. “his is not just about Champaign-Urbana. This is a multi-jurisdictional issue. And many communities are on board with us, moving forward on the ban.”

The measure’s co-sponsors include three from parts of central Illinois that draw water from the Mahomet Aquifer --- Republicans Chad Hays, Adam Brown and Bill Mitchell.

Ammons is also sponsoring House Resolution 116, asking the US Environmental Protection Agency to grant “sole source” designation to the Mahomet Aquifer. Such a move would designate federal reviews of any federally funded projects that might endanger the aquifer.

Both bills have been assigned to the Illinois House Environment Committee. Ammons and three of the bill’s co-sponsor serve on the committee --- Mitchell and two Chicago area Democrats, Robyn Gabel and Ann Moeller. But Ammons says its chairman, Rock Island Democrat Patrick Vershoore, is not a friend of the legislation.

“I’ve spoken to the chair of Environment, and he said that he couldn’t support it”, said Ammons. “And I understood that  he represents a completely different district that works with companies that have to dispose of this waste product somewhere. And so, at this point, I’m not very confident that our bill will be able to move in the Environment Committee. “

Ammons says she’s trying to get her bills moved to a different House committee.