The chemical waste site would be adjacent to and part of the Clinton
Landfill. That landfill is located over the Mahomet Aquifer.
The Mahomet Aquifer is a vast underground lake supplying water to
the counties of Logan, Cass, Tazewell, Peoria, Woodford, McLean,
DeWitt, Piatt, Macon, Champaign, Iroquois and Vermilion.
The proposed site is in the permitting process with the EPA. One
of the evaluating criteria in the permitting process is public
opinion. Board members were asked by a grass-roots organization
known as WATCH, representing "We're Against Toxic CHemicals," to
join in making a statement of opposition to the EPA.
PCB-contaminated material, and only-PCB contaminated materials,
would be accepted at the site.
The use of polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, was
banned in the U.S. in 1979. According to the EPA, PCB contamination
has been linked to numerous health issues, including cancer and
non-cancer effects on the endocrine, reproductive and immune
The proposed site would be located with the Clinton Landfill. The
chemical waste area would be a set-aside area covering 22.5 acres of
the nearly 160-acre landfill. It would be filled to a height of
approximately 140 feet (equivalent to a 14-story building) above the
Examples of materials that would go there would be shredded old
transformers that once held PCB fluids, and contaminated soil and
refuse from Hurricane Katrina.
The landfill is located south of Clinton, north of Salt Creek and
east of Route 51.
Three WATCH representatives, Matt Varble, David Taylor and David
Holt, were present and took turns explaining the issues. They
provided maps, plans, and boring and geology diagrams, some made
available through the EPA.
The site would have the required minimum 3-foot clay barrier and
plastic liner to prevent contamination. The clay base that is there
ranges from 3- to 10-feet thick. However, borings indicate that if
chemicals were to breach containment units, there is a pocket of
sand piercing the clay barrier that would aid and speed seepage,
increasing the possibility of contamination.
The WATCH representatives said that the No. 1 concern is that the
water supply would become contaminated, and that is irreversible. It
would have widespread health and economic impact.
Also, cleanup of the site would still need to take place, and in
all likelihood the cost would fall to all the communities affected.
Seepage through clay is estimated at a rate of one foot every 10
years. Sixty years is the estimate to seep through. But this is not
solid clay; it is mixed, a representative pointed out.
The group contends that they are not against DeWitt County
hosting this chemical wastes site. There are other locations in the
county where it would be acceptable, just not over the aquifer.
"This is not a good place to put toxic chemicals; at some time this
will leak," Varble said.
Champaign County agreed to oppose the permit. The group will be
asking Macon County next week but has received indication that they
will support the opposition as well.
[to top of second column]
The representatives turned the matter over to Logan County Board
members to ask questions.
First was Chuck
Ruben. He said that he felt he had inadequate information to make a
decision to oppose it. That's what we pay the EPA to do. "This
should be decided on scientific evidence," he said.
He likened this to
"not in my backyard." We spent 20 years fighting where to put
nuclear wastes. The government has spent billions of dollars and is
still fighting it. I wouldn't want that in my backyard and I don't
want this in my backyard. But I feel inadequate to make that
determination in the long term. "That's what we have the EPA for;
let's let them make the decision."
He said that he's
spent a lot of time in meetings regarding concerns that hogs would
contaminate the environment, even when set standards would prevent
that from happening.
He later brought up
that people have complained about the negative impact that windmills
have on the environment.
The EPA is there to
decide for our safety. They have strict guidelines. If the project
is following all their regulations, then this is not a valid
If the EPA finds
that this is going to contaminate our water source, I don't want it
here. But the decision should be made on scientific evidence not on
social "not in my backyard" thinking.
George Mitchell --
Windmills and toxic chemicals are two different things. Windmills
are not going to hurt anybody.
As county board
members, we are to represent the people of Logan County. If there is
a chance that it is going to leak, I don't want that.
recalled some of the chemical mistakes that we have made in the past
that we now understand differently. "I don't want to look back 20
years from now and say maybe we made a mistake."
Dick Logan agreed
with the concern that the location poses a potential threat to the
health and safety of Logan County residents, and possible economic
impact. We may have environmental problems to speak to from this. I
think this affects us our children, our grandchildren, our
A straw poll of the board indicated that the resolution favoring
a statement of opposition to the EPA would pass. The vote was 6-3
and just met the two-thirds mark. Ten board members were present.
One person did not vote. Absent were Gloria Luster (she was in the
parade) and Vickie Hasprey.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
You can find more details on the issue at
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency on polychlorinated biphenyls
[To download Adobe Acrobat Reader for
the PDF files, click