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
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
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. …