Tuesday, Jan. 11


Gov. Blagojevich orders environmental inspectors to Ford Heights landfill, threatens shutdown if illegal dumping is still taking place       Send a link to a friend

Blagojevich administration continues new crackdown on dumps that threaten state's environment and public health

[JAN. 11, 2005]  CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich dispatched Illinois Environmental Protection Agency inspectors to the Lincoln Ltd. landfill in south suburban Ford Heights on Monday to see if the site is still accepting waste illegally despite multiple IEPA violation notices. The governor threatened to seal the site quickly if waste is still being taken without proper permits and oversight. The action is the second in the administration's aggressive new crackdown on illegal dumping.

"We need to be able to take quick action when we learn that a landfill operator is putting our environment and the public at risk. This problem came to my personal attention very recently when a landfill in Joliet that is owned by a relative of my wife was found to be operating without any state oversight. In the past, these kinds of cases have gotten tied up in months- or even years-long legal battles while the illegal activity continues. We won't sit back and let that happen anymore," the governor said.

The Lincoln Ltd. landfill, located at the northwest corner of Torrence Avenue and Route 30 in Ford Heights, was first cited by the IEPA for violating the state's waste disposal laws in October of 2002. The operators did not have a state permit to accept general waste and allowed debris to be piled above grade -- a violation of state law.

The landfill refused to comply with IEPA demands, so the case was referred to the attorney general's office in November 2003. Despite the ongoing legal action, Lincoln Ltd. has been accepting waste illegally and piling the debris above grade. In fact, the volume of waste at the site has grown dramatically, from 432,000 cubic yards in October 2002 to roughly 4.8 million cubic yards in August 2004. The landfill has grown from 47 feet high to 73 feet high.

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"Despite our best efforts to bring Lincoln Ltd. into compliance, its operators have continued to add to the growing environmental problem while their case makes its way through the lengthy legal process. Sealing the site may be the only way to stop a mounting threat to the Ford Heights community," said Renee Cipriano, director of the IEPA.

Last Thursday the IEPA sealed the Land Reclamation Services Inc. landfill in Joliet after inspectors found the site was accepting and storing general debris without necessary state permits and discharging into nearby Sugar Run Creek without a state permit.

The governor learned about problems at the landfill, which is operated by Frank Schmidt, a distant cousin of first lady Patti Blagojevich, when his office received complaints that Schmidt was using his ties to the Blagojevich family to solicit business.

The governor ordered IEPA inspectors to the site on Dec. 28; and they made subsequent visits on Dec. 29 and 30, and Jan. 3, 4 and 5. The IEPA shut down the site on Jan. 6 until the problems cited in the violation notices could be fixed.

[News release from the governor's office]

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