There have been great successes over the past eight years to address the risk posed by Clinton Landfill storing truly hazardous and toxic wastes over the Mahomet Aquifer, Central Illinois’ water supply. This has come from the cooperative action, support and legal efforts of volunteers, some of our local governmental entities, and supportive individuals.
The landfill’s plans announced in 2007 for a chemical-waste landfill at Clinton to store PCB waste directly over the Mahomet Aquifer was stopped. The plan to store millions of tons of hazardous-level waste from manufactured-gas plant site clean-ups was also stopped but only after 27,000 tons had already been received.
In March 2015, U.S. EPA designated the Mahomet Aquifer a “sole source aquifer” since it is the only and an irreplaceable source of drinking water for 94 percent, or at least 650,000, people across Central Illinois. That designation triggered state regulations that will now preclude any new or expanded landfills over the Mahomet Sole Source Aquifer across all of Central Illinois.
Finally, in Nov. 2014 voters in the third and fourth advisory referenda in DeWitt and Piatt Counties overwhelmingly opposed the landfill’s plans by 91 and 94 percent.
Despite these past successes and overwhelming public sentiment, truly protecting our water supply and providing future generations who will live here with a safe, trusted and plentiful water supply is not yet assured.
The next chapter in this effort has started, and your help is needed.
That next step is a public-funded legal effort that was filed in November and will be coordinated by WATCH. It seeks to declare the landfill a nuisance and to eliminate once and for all the risk that it forever poses to our water supply.
This legal effort will not be easy, inexpensive nor quick. However, it is based upon centuries-old, common-law nuisance. It effectively bypasses the regulatory and enforcement compromises and bureaucracies that have allowed, if not created, the current problem.
A similar effort by the people of Wilsonville, Ill. in the 1980s was successful. That effort shut down and removed a landfill that had contaminated that town’s water supply.
This next step will primarily take advantage of three recent disclosures about the contamination and risk posed by the landfill.
First, the landfill’s own groundwater monitoring-well tests submitted to Illinois EPA shows increasing levels of contamination of groundwater at the landfill over at least the last 10 years. That contamination is in wells outside of the landfill’s plastic liners.
Second, routine government testing of Salt Creek that runs alongside the landfill also shows contamination.
Third, the landfill has already been declared to be a public nuisance with respect to the existing manufactured-gas-plant waste. That waste was stored illegally under a now revoked permit. That declaration came in a unanimously approved complaint filed by a regional coalition of 14 governmental entities this past November. That complaint was coordinated with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Illinois EPA.
Unfortunately, that coalition, Illinois EPA and Attorney General Madigan chose to enter into a no-harm, no-foul, no-fine consent decree with the landfill to “settle” the issue.
The decree settled the complaint but did not truly resolve the contamination and nuisance that they uncovered and declared. All parties essentially agreed to continue to monitor the situation.
They agreed to put off legitimately addressing the illegal waste, current contamination and future contamination risk until sometime later. Unbelievably, that would be after the current contamination becomes even worse and the need for its legitimate resolution becomes even more obvious. It would also be after the problem is buried under tens of millions of tons of other waste.
Reportedly, there is also a backroom understanding that a new publicly funded bureaucracy will be established. It would monitor and report on the “progress” of the contamination of the region’s water supply.
WATCH feels that the time to monitor and report on the contamination and allow further contamination has passed.
When our environmental regulatory and enforcement bureaucracies fail us and refuse to act, the time-tested, common-law nuisance doctrine gives us neighbors the legal right to step up and protect our water supply.
We hope that you can support this next step in this now eight-year effort with whatever donation that you can provide, be that $10, $100 or any other amount, or even a recurring amount. Donations will not directly involve you in the litigation, but will fund the suit and WATCH’s other efforts to protect our water supply.
If you know of other individuals that would be interested in donating, please pass this email along. Working together as a grassroots-funded effort, we can move this eight-year effort forward. Together, we can take the steps necessary to assure that the Mahomet Sole Source Aquifer is a safe, trusted, and plentiful water supply for ourselves and the future generations that will need to rely upon it.
Bill Spencer, President
George Wissmiller, Vice-president and Treasurer
Terry Hoffman, Secretary
Sherrie Brown, Director
Additional Information and Direct Donation to WATCH: www.watchclintonlandfill.com/donate
Online Donations through PayPal: From PayPal send your donation to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailed Donations to WATCH: WATCH Clinton Landfill Association, P.O. Box 62, Farmer City, IL 61842
Mailed Donations Directly to WATCH’s Attorneys: Schirott, Luetkehans & Garner, LLC, 105 E. Irving Park Rd., Itasca, IL 60143 (Indicate “Account 4094 – Clinton Landfill”)
call: 309 306-1640 to be contacted by phone