Nuisance lawsuit proceeds against Clinton Landfill

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Clinton, Ill., March 14, 2016 – A lawsuit will now proceed to determine whether or not Clinton Landfill’s operation is a public nuisance and should be closed, and its contents removed. The landfill’s attempt to dismiss the suit was rejected during a circuit court hearing Tuesday afternoon in Clinton.

The suit was filed by WATCH Clinton Landfill Association and five neighbors of the landfill. Among other issues, the suit cites contamination risks that the landfill poses to the underlying Mahomet Sole Source Aquifer System and nearby surface water.

Clinton Landfill is located about two miles south of Clinton. Along with its sister waste-collection business Area Disposal, it is part of the business operations of the Coulter family of Peoria.

Clinton Landfill includes the only chemical-waste unit in Illinois. It has received high-concentration manufactured-gas plant (MGP) waste The disposal of MGP waste in Illinois is now only allowed in hazardous-waste landfills.

Clinton Landfill is now currently being promoted as a major coal-ash repository.

Bill Spencer, president of WATCH, commented, “Obviously, we’re pleased with the decision. This issue will finally have its day in court.”

Spencer added that, in the 1980s, the Village of Wilsonville, Ill. was successful in a nuisance effort that closed and removed a similar landfill. However, that ruling came only after its water supply had been significantly contaminated.

Spencer said, “Our hope is to protect our only water supply and, hopefully, to do so before it becomes as contaminated as Wilsonville’s.”

In its 1981 Wilsonville decision, the Illinois Supreme Court noted that the courts can preemptively rule against a possible nuisance when the prospective damage can be reasonably anticipated.

In 1988, the U.S. EPA formally issued its land-disposal regulations in the Federal Register for the current style of clay- or plastic-lined landfills like Clinton. The agency noted that “even the best liner and leachate collection systems will ultimately fail due to natural deterioration”

After Tuesday’s decision, attorneys for the landfill left without commenting on the court’s ruling or issues raised in the complaint.

Per Tuesday’s ruling, WATCH has 30 days to file an amended complaint, primarily to clarify damages alleged in the public-nuisance count. The two other counts of private nuisance and trespass were accepted by the court as filed.

The court gave the landfill a subsequent 30-day period to respond to the amended complaint.

The scheduling of future hearings, discovery and depositions was deferred at Tuesday’s hearing. However, it was agreed that the case is likely to proceed without significant delays.

The Mahomet Aquifer is the drinking water source for over 650,000 people across a 14-county region of central Illinois.

On March 11, 2015, the U.S. EPA designated the aquifer as the Mahomet Sole Source Aquifer System under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Based upon recent research, primarily from the Illinois State Water Survey, the U.S. EPA designated the now-protected Mahomet Aquifer as actually an interconnected system that includes smaller overlying aquifers, surface waterways and the land itself.

Under some conditions and in some studied areas, those shallower aquifers and some surface waters have been shown to recharge or drain into the underlying Mahomet Aquifer.

A peer-reviewed report produced by the U.S. Geological Survey and released in 2016 showed that there is scientific evidence of direct recharge of the Mahomet Aquifer at one of six locations at the Clinton Landfill site.

The sole source designation was requested by a regional coalition of governmental bodies. The application included scientific and engineering reports confirming that the aquifer was the sole and an irreplaceable source of water for more than 90 percent of the region’s residents That is above the 50 percent minimum required to qualify.

To receive a designation, it also must be shown that no feasible alternative sources of drinking water are available or could be economically developed.

Besides Clinton Landfill, the Coulter family also operates several other waste-related businesses primarily across central Illinois including Peoria Disposal Company and Indian Creek Landfill near Hopedale.

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Contact Information:

WATCH Clinton Landfill Association; Bill Spencer, President; (217) 944-2259; hvacbilly@yahoo.com; website at www.watchclintonlandfill.com; direct email to the association at inbox@watchclintonlandfill.com; voicemail at (309) 306‐1640

 

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