EPA supports single source aquifer, but says it won't stop PCBs

Champaign -- After a review of a 2012 petition, the Environmental Protection Agency now supports adding regulation to keep contamination out of the Mahomet Aquifer, but it won't stop a private proposal to store toxic chemicals on the landfill above it.

Hundreds of people attended a public hearing hosted by the EPA Tuesday evening, and they came with questions about how designation the Mahomet Aquifer as a single source aquifer would keep polychlorinated biphenyl out of the Clinton Landfill above it. They answer they got was that it won't.

"The designation of sole source aquifer means that any projects that have federal funding that are involved, there is additional review that must go on to make sure they don't impact the aquifer," said Tinka Hyde, a water division director at the EPA.

But that designation won't make an impact on private projects, like the proposal by Area Disposal Co. to store PCBs in the landfill above the aquifer.

"I know there is a lot of interest in the clinton landfill, but that is a separate project and a separate effort with other folks at the EPA and that has its own process," said Hyde.

Residents who attended the meeting expressed their frustration, but members of the coalition that worked on the petition say their focus was more long-term.

 "The PCB dumping is my issue, but it's a single issue," said DeWitt County Board member George Wissmiller. "It's not the answer. We have coal ash coming at us, we have other pollutants going  in the water. We need a continuing plan to monitor threats to the water, threats to the aquifer and that's what this provides kind of a loose framework for."

Even though the EPA announced it's support to classify the Mahomet Aquifer as a single source aquifer, an official decision won't come until everyone has had a chance to voice their opinions.

They will have the opportunity to do that Wednesday, May 13 at another public hearing at Freedom Hall in Morton at 7:30, or they can write directly to the EPA by June 12.

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