More protection for aquifer

By Lindsey Gordon , Anthony Antoine |

Published 07/18 2014 10:57AM

Updated 08/04 2014 12:49PM

Latest: 10:02 pm, 8/1/14, Friday
CLINTON -- The Illinois EPA says the Clinton Landfill can no longer accept a type of toxic chemical. Officials and citizens fought to stop toxic dumping over the Mahomet Aquifer.

More than 800,000 people in Central Illinois depend on it for drinking water. Now, they want to make sure the chemicals already disposed there are cleaned up.

Those who have been working to block the permits want legislation passed. They want it to be illegal to dump toxic chemicals above the aquifer.
Latest: 10:08 pm, 7/31/14, Thursday
CLINTON -- Governor Quinn is focused on the Clinton Landfill. Thursday, he took action to stop the disposal of waste from a manufactured gas plant. It was generally made from coal, but tar was a by-product.

It eventually started to leak or was spilled or discharged into the environment. The action follows Monday's announcement the Illinois EPA took action to stop PCB's from being dumped in the landfill.
Latest: 10:10 pm, 7/28/14, Monday
CLINTON -- The governor has banned PCB's from the Clinton Landfill. Pat Quinn says the Illinois EPA will block their storage. It was discovered the local approval of the landfill in 2002 did not include toxic chemicals. The state EPA had earlier signed off on a plan to allow PCB's to be stored there.

The landfill sits directly over the Mahomet Aquifer which provides water for 750,000 people. Monday night, the mayor of Champaign called it a "good first step in protecting our water."
Latest: 10:05 pm, 7/26/14, Saturday
ILLINOIS -- The fight to protect the Mahomet Aquifer from harmful chemicals has now reached the state capitol. While visiting the UI to talk about higher education laws, Governor Quinn announced plans to look into the Clinton Landfill issue and hopefully stop it from dumping chemicals which could contaminate the drinking water. WCIA-3's Lindsey Gordon has more.

Groups say they've been asking the governor to step in for years. Now, nearing the end of his term, he is giving hope to those who've been fighting this battle.

After years of fighting to keep the Mahomet Aquifer clean, people like Claudia Lennhoff feel like their work is paying off.

"After so much media attention and people calling for action, and I know people were calling his office because I had people calling me and the governor made something really important happen."

"It's important for the drinking water for nearly a million people and we want to protect it with every ounce of fiber in our being."

For years, the Clinton Landfill has been accepting certain types of toxic waste. Now, it wants to dump another kind of chemical.

Friday, Governor Quinn announced he sent a letter to DeWitt County. He wants to find out if Clinton Landfill got its original permit legally.

"DeWitt County Board was never informed and requested permission for the landfill to receive PCBs and the MGPs waste. It was sort of a back-door kind of thing."

If the permit wasn't legal, the Illinois EPA can take the chemical license away, stopping all chemicals from being dumped there. Lennhoff says it could have been done sooner, but she's feeling hopeful.

"If the Illinois EPA takes away the license, for chemical waste, then that will take care of even the toxic contamination that's going there now."

"We are extraordinarily grateful. I am remiss that we as a smaller government didn't have more control, but we are happy that you are willing and able and stepped in."

At the state level, the governor has the power to take away the license on his own, but Quinn says he doesn't want to go about it that way.

"The law is the best way to go in order to protect our decision and the decision of the DeWitt County Board."

Quinn did not say how soon the Illinois EPA would make a decision. He did say people would not have to hold their breath.
Update: 6:03 pm, 7/22/14, Tuesday
CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- There are more developments in the fight to protect the Mahomet Aquifer. The governor's office launched an investigation. He wants to make sure the DeWitt County Board was up front about a permit to dump waste at the Clinton Landfill.

The state has the power to take back that permit to dump PCB's if if finds any misleading information. The governor says it's a top priority to find out exactly who issued the permit and if it was done properly.
Original: 10:04, 7/17/14, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Area groups launched a new campaign to boycott a garbage company. Area Disposal is based in Peoria and owns the Clinton Landfill. It wants to dump PCB's in part of the landfill, but it's over the Mahomet Aquifer. Organizers say they don't want it there. They've created a Facebook page asking people to stop using Area Disposal and switch haulers.

Area Disposal provides service to 38 counties across Central Illinois. The aquifer provides water to more than 750,000 people. Leaders say it's frustrating to think this step is even necessary. The state EPA gave Area Disposal a permit to dump other hazardous waste in Clinton, but not the PCB's.

In the past, the company has said the water supply would be protected. They've followed all the guidelines and are working with the EPA. It's been more than five years and people still have concerns about the aquifer. The Facebook page has fewer than 100 likes so far.

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