Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette says the action comes after the governor asked the DeWitt County Board for information about Peoria Disposal Company’s original request for approval of the landfill site 12 years ago.
“What we were asking from them is did they specifically approve the siting of PCB’s at the landfill when they approved the landfill in 2002?” said Blanchette. “And their answer essentially was no, we did not.”
In fact, Quinn’s office says Peoria Disposal representative said at a public hearing at the time that they would not accept PCB’s.
Governor Quinn is now telling the state EPA to modify the Clinton Landfill permit to bar PCB’s. At issue, he says, is the safety of the Mahomet Aquifer, which lies below the Clinton Landfill, and provides drinking water for an estimated 800,000 central Illinois residents.
State EPA spokesperson Kim Biggs says the change is effective in 45 days, and Peoria Disposal Company could appeal the matter to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Even if the governor’s action were reversed, Peoria Disposal Company would still need approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it could store PCB’s at the Clinton Landfill. Their request has been pending before the federal agency for several months.
A spokesperson for Peoria Disposal Company did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.
An attorney for the Chicago suburb of Summit calls the governor’s move politically motivated. Jeffrey Jeep says Summit was counting on the Clinton Landfill to take PCB’s from an industrial site.
“We have this pile of PCB-contaminated material that continues to threaten the community,” said Jeep. “The U.S. EPA has determined that it’s an imminent and substantial endangerment to public help. And now we do not have any way of solving this problem.”
Jeep argues that the Clinton Landfill would be a safe storage site for PCB’s, certainly safer than the unsecured site in Summit that contains PCB’s and lead left behind by an auto shredding operation. He contends that there are industrial sites with PCB’s lying over the Mahomet Aquifer as well.
But Steve Bridges of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance says the governor’s move will protect the aquifer from the risk of contamination. He also hoped that Quinn’s action would also bar the storage of manufactured gas plant waste, or MGP waste, since it was covered by the same permit modification approved by the Illinois EPA in 2010 that allowed for the storage of PCB’s.
Bridges contends that landfills are not a secure way of storing PCB’s, and says the village of Summit should explore more environmentally sustainable alternatives.