Foes of Landfill Ask Illinois to Close It

Article excerpt

Critics of a landfill on flood-prone Chouteau Island have asked state agencies to close down the site the opponents believe is polluting the island and the Mississippi River.

Testifying at a hearing before the Illinois Pollution Control Board in Collinsville, several residents of Madison County said last week that it was absurd to operate a landfill on an island that has flooded twice in two years and is surrounded by a river many people use for drinking water.

Kathy Andria of Granite City is a member of the Madison County Conservation Alliance and a group called Stop Polluting Illinois. She charged that the floodwater in 1993 and this year had picked up solid waste from the landfill and had been contaminated by water that had leached through the landfill. She also said that, although the landfill is not allowed to accept waste classified by the state as hazardous, much of the household waste it holds contains material such as bleach, batteries and lead.

Kay Kendall of Edwardsville said flatly, "Anybody who knows about Chouteau Island would know it's a stupid place to put a landfill."

Kenneth E. Smith, an engineer for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, told the board he was unaware of any solid waste that was washed out of the landfill by floods.

The alliance has tried twice unsuccessfully to stop the landfill owned by Waste Management Co. from expanding into another 35 acres on the island near Granite City. The Pollution Control Board denied both of the appeals, noting that the company already had approval from the state to use the land and was simply notifying the state of its intentions to do so.

The landfill uses more than 100 acres on the island where flooding in 1993 led the federal government to buy the homes of the 50 families that lived there. Only some farmers and the landfill now occupy the island that was formed when the Chain of Rocks Canal was cut through that section of Chouteau Township, and Lock and Dam 27 was built there so boats and barges could bypass the area of the Mississippi that was so difficult to navigate.

Andria complained that the Illinois Department of Transportation was planning to spend $4.2 million to build ramps to the island from Interstate 270, benefiting only the trucks going to the landfill.

Concerns about the landfill dominated the hearing last Wednesday, even though it was called to get comments from the public and the industry on whether changes are needed in laws controlling all landfills in flood plains. The hearing was requested by the Environmental Protection Agency so the Pollution Control Board could take sworn testimony.

George Arnold of Edwardsville, an environmental engineer and member of the conservation alliance, called for the board to immediately close the landfill on Chouteau Island and prohibit landfills in 100-year flood plains. …