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updated: 7/29/2014 10:04 AM

Quinn says state EPA will block PCBs from landfill

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Associated Press

Toxic PCBs will not be stored in a central Illinois landfill sitting atop an aquifer that provides water to 750,000 people, Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced Monday.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency agreed to bar PCBs from being dumped in the Clinton Landfill near Clinton after learning that local approval of the landfill in 2002 didn't include PCBs. The agency initially signed off on a plan by landfill-owner Area Disposal in Peoria and a subsidiary to store the chemical.

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"We are going to modify the (previously issued) permit, that will prevent the placing of PCBs in the Clinton landfill," state EPA spokesman Dave Blanchette said.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are chemical compounds once used in industrial and commercial products such as oil-based paints and fluorescent light ballasts. They were outlawed in the United States in 1979, because they cause cancer and can damage human and animal immune, reproductive and nervous systems. But the chemicals remain in the environment at many industrial sites.

According to state officials, the Mahomet Aquifer, which includes river basins and surface waters, supplies water to portions of more than a dozen counties: Cass, Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Iroquois, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Peoria, Piatt, Tazewell, Vermilion and Woodford.

Many towns that sit over the Mahomet aquifer fear the groundwater could be contaminated by PCBs.

State officials say Illinois law allows the state EPA to modify a landfill permit when it is determined a decision was made using false or misleading information. Officials say the agency was informed last week that the DeWitt County Board contends it "did not authorize the disposal of TSCA-regulated PCBs in its Sept. 12, 2002 siting approval."

Landfill owner Area Disposal in Peoria planned to store PBC-contaminated soil dredged out of Great Lakes harbors and places like the Fox River in Wisconsin.

Telephone calls to a company spokesman and to an attorney for the company were not immediately returned.

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