News Local/State

U Of I To Help PCB Landfill Opponents Find Alternatives


Officials in east-central Illinois have been trying to block a proposal to store hazardous PCB’s at the Clinton Landfill in DeWitt County for the last few years. Now, they hope to offer a different way of getting rid of the once-common chemical, which has been linked to cancer.

The University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute will look for alternative disposal methods for PCB’s --- which might include incineration or even microbes. The Institute will present its findings to the Mahomet Aquifer Working Group, a consortium of local government, university and other officials.

State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), one of the organizers of the consortium, says they want to show the federal EPA there are better ways to deal with PCB’s than a landfill.

"We can’t just keep saying ‘not here;', said Rose, at a Friday news conference at the Institute's Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. "We have to come up with something that’s environmentally sustaining for everyone. And that, ultimately, at the end of the day, provides the legitimate policy alternative that you can point to and say, ‘look, that’s the way we should go’."

Rose was joined by several University of Illinois faculty members and researchers, and also other lawmakers, including State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), U.S Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), and a representative for U-S Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois). Rose says he had also been assured of support for their project by the office of U.S Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Illinois).

Prairie Research Institute Assistant Executive Director Gary Miller says there’s no firm deadline for presenting their findings, but they plan to keep their search focused on existing commercial practices and research.

"We're not creating any new technologies", said Miller. "But there's a range of technologies that can be applied, from advanced thermal technologies, to chemical, to biological technologies, or combinations of those."

PCB's, or polychlorinated byphenyls, are a family of man-made organic chemical that were banned in the U-S in 1979. They were once used in manufacturing everything from electrical transformers to oil-based paint.

The Clinton Landfill is a subsidiary of PDC/Area Disposal Service Inc, based in Peoria.