We are all creators of waste. Waste is created even in the materials we recycle such as the chemicals used to make paper reusable and the chemicals used to recycle metals. Ways have not yet been developed nor maybe never will be developed, to recycle all created wastes. Even compost and manure give off certain gases such as methane. Safe disposal landfills must be created to handle dangerous wastes that can be captured and stored forever. Much of the waste we create is hauled away in garbage trucks every day and the majority of this waste is disposed without treatment in the Peoria City/County Landfill near Edwards. Much waste becomes toxic if not properly treated and isolated from contact with the public. Peoria City/County Landfill (I am a member of the Peoria/City Landfill Committee) so I can speak with some experience on the disposals of wastes, handles mainly organic waste along with whatever else someone wants to dispose or hide in their garbage such as discarded medicines, arsenic, rat and mole poisons, pesticides, paint, lead, mercury, batteries, shoe polish, or other toxic materials that are not thoroughly inspected or treated before disposal.
For 27 years this community has been fortunate to have a company that accepts other wastes that cannot be disposed by law in regular polluted landfills, mainly solid metallic wastes. This company is Peoria Disposal Company who by law can only accept wastes that meets the standards of acceptance by not only Peoria Disposal Company but by all governmental environmental regulatory bodies. PDC has been a steward of the land for over 27 years in their solid wastage landfill off Rt. 8 near Pottstown. PDC, a local family owned and operated business has gone quietly about their business doing exactly what they are asking county board members to allow them to continue doing for the next 15 years. PDC has not been cited for any violations for the past 12 years. By contrast, the City/County Landfill which is no comparison to the clean PDC Landfill was just issued a warning for blowing paper. There is nothing blowing from PDC, the landfill is buffered by its own expanse of 300 acres. No methane gas, no sea gulls, no blowing paper. When the waste comes in by enclosed truck to PDC, it is tested to meet all Illinois Environmental Agency laws, treated, and where required, mixed with Portland cement, spread, compacted and eventually covered. Liquids that come from precipitation and drainage from the buried hazardous waste are siphoned off thru a series of internal piping called “leaching”, this water is treated and accepted by the Greater Peoria Sanitary District where it is again cleansed and channeled into the Illinois River.
That PDC does accept waste from others beside Caterpillar, Keystone, Ameren/Cilco and others is a tribute to the safety of this landfill now seeking to expand on existing landfill plus an additional 8 acres already owned by PDC. Many companies in the area ship other types of waste not accepted in Peoria County to landfills and incinerators in different states. Hospital waste is a good example.
When PDC submitted a request to expand their present 27 year old site, information was submitted to the public allowing public attendance and testimony. The County Board Chairman created a siting committee to listen to 6 days of testimony and cross-examination. Peoria County Staff and county screened and hired expert environmental engineers also listened to all testimony and submitted questions to our special hired outside attorney. After thorough examination, all Peoria County Staff and county hired engineers and outside attorney, agreed that PDC had met all nine criteria required to have the expansion sited. The recommendation to approve 15 more years of receiving, treating and burying of toxic waste came with approximately 30 additional “Special Criteria” including 3 more testing wells for water monitoring and millions of dollars set aside in a county controlled growing perpetual maintenance trust fund. Four of the seven of us on the siting committee agreed. We heard and/or read all the testimony submitted (2257 pages of testimony and cross-examination) submitted over a 6 day period. (This testimony is available for your review on www.peoriacounty.org or a synopsis on http://widmer-peoria-watch.blogspot.com
Three county board members not on the siting committee also voted to accept the recommendations of Peoria County Staff and expert opinion. There was a question whether the head of the County Health Department who was part of staff making the recommendation that all criteria had been met, agreed. On April 27, I received an email from Ms. Parker stating “I too, after listening to the testimonies and reading the material, thought the expansion with the perpetual care fund would be a safe choice of the county.”
The testimony of Dr. Zwicky and Dr. Vidal was correct in that the materials accepted by PDC are toxic. That’s the reason they are treated to become hazardous waste, mixed with Portland cement, it is a finer grade, and buried to set forever in a relatively dry tomb. (Expert testimony states that after 8-10 years any liquids will have been “leachated” from the site.) In sworn testimony neither Dr. Zwicky nor Dr. Vidal had no knowledge of what PDC does or had ever visited the site.
PDC accepts tours by appointment. The property is strictly guarded to prevent any types of intrusion or vandalism
PDC has made every effort to be good stewards of hazardous waste. PDC has now agreed not to build on Disposal trench C-1 and leave it permanently covered. This means all expansion will take place 375 feet further away from any residential area and the new location will be barely visible if at all to the home owners in the area.
Passionate environmentalist Tom Edwards testified “No C/of/C would recommend businesses to move into this community.” On April 13, all board members received a letter from the Peoria Area Camber of Commerce, a company of the Heartland Partnership, stating “The Chamber of Commerce remains in favor of the expansion.” Most of the major leading economic development supporters, including The Heartland Partnership, the Economic Development Council, and the Greater Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce all have expressed their support of expansion. I have learned that the Civic Federation Executive Board has recommended to their membership that a yes vote would be best for the community.
There is a building fear in Peoria that over zealous though well meaning environmentalists will indeed drive reputable businesses out of the community and cause any company that produces toxic wastes from joining our business community. Homespun Tom Edwards appears to be looking for the national spotlight in his efforts to close down landfills. On April 13, 2006 speaking before the full County Board, Mr. Edwards said "I think (the no vote) was a historic decision and it is going to be nationally important." When asked what to do with wastes, Tom says "recycle". In a perfect workl]ld that might be done. Common sense says we will be seeking ways to recycle and dispose for decades.
Only two people from the Peoria City Council, one was Gary Sandberg, have spoken against the expansion. Neither one knew exactly how PDC handles and buries hazardous waste nor did they listen to any expert testimony. Mayor Ardis gave his early on support as did PPD Superintendent Bonnie Noble and board member Stan Budinzski who lives on the west side of peoria.
The poisonous atmosphere created in Peoria comes from the word “toxic” and water supply endangerment. The oppositions own expert testified under oath as follows: Question to Mr. Norris; “Now Mr. Norris, in Central Illinois where we have glacial tills overlying a shallow aquifer, would the Sankoty aquifer be reasonably described as such? Answer: As a shallow aquifer? Yes. Answer by Mr. Norris, Yes, I think so.” Mr. Norris continued “there are man made chemicals in the aquifer, we do not know of certainty where they came from.” It is through multiple layers of protection from this shallow aquifer that prompted expert testimony to believe that any wastes that could enter the water supply would be minor and spread over a large area.
The old barrels trenches are not part of this expansion nor is any expansion allowed over them. For the sake of this community, keep this family owned local, environmentally concerned company with their trained laboratory and disposal crews in this community in event of any unlikely (expert testimony) future problems and with enough money to take care of them without taxpayer involvement.
With the help of all county board members, staff, outside legal council county hired environmental engineering firm and the concerned citizens of the area, PDC has agreed to accept all roughly 30 “Special Criteria” added to their Siting Application including additional air and water monitoring, the right of the county to do our own testing, the right to approve or deny acceptance of different types of waste, the perpetual maintenance fund growing to($8,000,000,000.00 after 150 years, not being able to sell the business without county approval and not adding to the closed C-1 site.
This community should not want to drive this successful business out of our county over speculations and unfair comparisons to Love Canal, chemical landfills in New Jersey and some organic and chemical landfills Europe.