The Public Square

Lillian Driver on the 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign and Ameren toxic waste at the site


Hello. My name is Lillian Driver and I am a resident of the 5th and Hill neighborhood in Champaign, where the Ameren toxic site is located.

During the past three years, my family and I have been a part of the 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign. With the help of the Champaign County Health Care Consumers, we have been working to make sure that Ameren cleans up all of the toxic waste that has spread into our neighborhood from their former manufactured gas plant. Toxic chemicals from Amerens property, like cancer-causing benzene, have been found in the soil and groundwater in our neighborhood.

Right now, Ameren is cleaning up their toxic property but the Illinois EPA, is only making Ameren clean up the soil on their property, not the toxic groundwater.

Ameren does not have to clean up the toxic groundwater because the City of Champaign passed a city-wide groundwater restriction ordinance in 2007, and under the Illinois EPAs rules, Ameren can use this ordinance to get off the hook for having to clean up the toxic groundwater.

Residents of the City of Champaign and surrounding communities need to know that this groundwater ordinance is bad environmental policy, and it doesnt just apply to Ameren. It opens the door for any polluter, such as gas stations, laundry cleaners, factories and others to contaminate our groundwater with toxic waste, and never have to clean it up.

This ordinance is based on the faulty logic that toxic contaminated groundwater is not harmful to human health as long as people are prohibited from drinking it. However, as a resident of the 5th & Hill neighborhood, I know that toxic groundwater can flood our homes and create vapors that enter our homes, and put our health at risk.

The only purpose of this groundwater ordinance is to save polluters money. But it comes at the expense of the health of the city's residents and it compromises an important natural resource our groundwater.

Fortunately, on Tuesday, February 8th, the Champaign City Council will be holding a Study Session to consider amending or repealing this harmful groundwater ordinance.

Please come and stand with the residents of the 5th & Hill Neighborhood in calling for the repeal of this harmful groundwater ordinance at the Study Session on Tuesday, February 8 at 7 p.m. at the Champaign City Building.

For more information, call Champaign County Health Care Consumers at (217) 352-6533. I hope to see you on Tuesday!