Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has appealed a decision that would put a central Illinois landfill a step closer to storing toxic waste over an aquifer that provides water for about 750,000 people.
Madigan's office said Thursday that she appealed last year's Illinois Pollution Control Board order allowing the Clinton Landfill to store cancer-causing PCBs. The appeal was filed this week in state Appellate Court in Springfield. Clinton is 40 miles west of Champaign.
Madigan says the landfill plan is a threat to the Mahomet Aquifer.
"The landfill sits atop an aquifer that is the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of central Illinoisans," Madigan said. "We're asking the court to intervene in the interest of their health and safety."
A subsidiary of Peoria-based Area Disposal Service Inc. owns the landfill. The company has said it would install a liner to protect the aquifer, and an attorney for Area Disposal said the Pollution Control Board's order is sound.
"They're the most knowledgeable tribunal in Illinois on environmental matters," Brian Meginnes said.
PCBs -- or polychlorinated biphenyl -- are man-made chemical compounds used in a wide range of industrial and commercial products, everything from oil-based paints to fluorescent light ballasts. They were outlawed in the United States in 1979 because they cause cancer in humans and animals, and can damage immune, reproductive and nervous systems. But they remain in the environment at industrial sites across the Midwest.
Area Disposal's subsidiary, Clinton Landfill Inc., hopes to store PBC-contaminated soil dredged out of Great Lakes harbors and places like the Fox River in Wisconsin, where paper makers left behind the toxic chemicals.
Many elected officials from towns across central Illinois that sit above the Mahomet Aquifer staunchly oppose the plan.
The landfill plan still needs approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to proceed.