News Local/State

UPDATED: Champaign City Council Endorses Clinton Landfill Consent Decree

Sign opposing the placing of PCB waste in the Clinton Landfill over the Mahomet Aquifer

In this undated file photo, a sign posted in DeWitt County from the group WATCH Clinton Landfill protests the placing of PCB's in the Clinton Landfill. (Sean Powers/WILL)

Updated at 9:52 PM. Council OK's Consent Decree: On a 6 to 2 vote Tuesday night, the Champaign City Council endorsed a consent decree with the Clinton Landfill to limit its intake over hazardous waste.

Champaign is the 4th member of the Mahomet Aquifer Coalition to agree to the consent decree. The Urbana City Council takes up the proposal next week.

The vote came after the City Council heard from critics who said the consent decree would give up too much to the landfill, which they accuse of storing hazardous waste illegally, without the approval of local governments.  Supporters on the council said the agreement represents incremental progress that needs to be followed up by additional efforts to protect the Mahomet Aquifer.

Resuming original story:

Under terms of the proposal, Clinton Landfill, Inc. (owned by Peoria-based PDC/Area Landfill Company) would take extra safety measures with the manufactured gas plant (MGP) waste it currently has, and not take in any future MGP or PCB waste. But Bill Spencer, president of the group W.A.T.C..H. Clinton Landfill wants the current waste removed.

Spencer, speaking before the meeting, says there’s nothing new in the promise to keep out MGP and PCB waste in the future, “which are only two of the known hazardous wastes which are now being limited by state and federal laws, which can’t go in there anyhow. So the landfill’s not really giving anything up that they already don’t have the authority to do.”

Also reached before the council meeting, Champaign assistant city attorney Joe Hooker says the proposal would actually expand on existing protections to cover not just the current Clinton Landfill, but any future site Clinton Landfill Inc. might seek to use over the Mahomet Aquifer in DeWitt County. Without it, he says Clinton Landfill might get approval for new waste, despite existing laws.

“We think we’d have some good arguments so they wouldn’t get that approval”, said Hooker. “But it would be subject to a fairly contentious hearing --- battle of the experts, so to speak.”

(NOTE: Both Spencer and Hooker also spoke at Tuesday night's Champaign City Council meeting).

(This paragraph updated on 9/4/15) The Monticello and Tuscola city councils and the McLean County board have already approved the proposed consent decree. The Savoy Village Board discussed the proposal on September 2nd, only to table the subject until September 23rd, in a meeting that Village Clerk Billie Kreuger described as a "doozy". The Urbana City Council will consider the consent decree proposal on September 8th; the city council’s committee meeting on the consent decree in August brought in lengthy comment from both critics and supporters. Also on September 8th, the Champaign County Board will take its first look at the proposal in a Committee of the Whole meeting. A total of 14 local governments in the Mahomet Aquifer Coalition must also agree for the consent decree to take effect, along with Clinton Landfill Inc., the Illinois attorney general's office and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.