Saturday, April 08, 2006

Love Canal; A Shame and a Shameful Comparison to the PDC Siting Application

My interview with Editor Ben Lambert of the Peoria Times-Observer this week allowed me to express my views about Peoria and who I am. Ben, I left out that I am “fiercely critical where warranted and equally willing to praise a job well done.” (Your management and ownership and your writers are doing an excellent job.) I have never “suffered fools gladly” nor ever totally trusted an enemy who wanted to now be my friend. I have lived a long life and had many great experiences like these five years I have been in politics yet I do not recall any issue in which so many lies were told masked as truths as this sustained attack on Peoria Disposal Company and the Coulter family and team.

One of the first out of town environmentalist, the most passionate environmentalists brought in, was Lois Gibbs, whose name is linked with Love Canal. Just a short review of what she said in comparing Love Canal to PDC was that no dumps are safe and that PDC could become in time another Love Canal. The comparisons were ludicrous.

Let’s look at what happened at Love Canal. Basically Love Canal was an ABANDONED trench with all kinds of industrial chemicals dumped in the trench and then covered and vacated. The trench had no liner, no supervision of what could go the trench and no supervision after closure, and no one was obligated to perpetually maintain it. Worse yet HOMES were built OVER this toxic porridge. All the digging into the ground fractured the cover, emissions rose and the water table was polluted. Eventually after widespread health problems, approximately 900 families were relocated, the waste removed and the trench properly sealed all at a cost of $227 million to the taxpayers. Ms. Gibbs studiously avoided mentioned where the waste removed and transferred from Love Canal was transferred too???

Ms. Gibbs was brought in to incite the community against PDC. She did and the half truths mixed with truths like Love Canal started to panic the community. Tom Edwards rallied support of the environmental community by asking people to believe we had another Love Canal in the making right here in Rivercity; albeit much bigger.

Love Canal was toxic waste untreated and forgotten so the name for PDC buried waste became "toxic" waste substituted for hazardous waste.
Brushed aside was the fact that Love Canal happened before (1978) there were ANY restrictions on any waste disposal.
Anything and everything was dumped in unlined trenches. Love Canal was not alone but it was one of the worst polluted dumps in the country.

What is the difference from PDC?
Expert testimony said the liner system proposed for the expansion exceeds mandated EPA requirements.
The landfill has had 13 straight years without a citation from the IEPA.
Out of the thousands of materials deemed not suitable for organic landfills, approximately 860 are accepted at PDC after approval by the IEPA.
All materials that are deemed toxic when they arrive at the landfill are tested to be sure the load meet specifications. (PDC says approximately 200 loads have been rejected for failure to meet specifications.)
All waste that is specified to be treated is treated to remove any toxins before the west is buried in the landfill.
The PDC landfill is know as a solid waste containment tomb; almost all water leached out after 8-10 years.
Leachate systems are installed to drain off excess water for buried content to surface water.
That water is placed in a holding pool and treated to be acceptable to the Greater Peoria Sanitary District where it is purified to the extent it can be funneled into the Illinois River and some of it makes its way back into the public water systems.
PDC has their own lab people who constantly monitor and check the landfill for any potential problems.
PDC is regularly monitored by Field Representatives of the EPA and must submit scheduled reports.
PDC has offered to let Peoria County come out and do their own testing of the facility.
PDC has never been a secret in this community. It was carefully designed to be as least objectionable to the surrounding neighbors.
The record of testimony does not show any neighbor who can easily see the landfill and who did come forward and to state the landfill was objectionable to their view of their surroundings.
When a PDC landfill section is closed it is covered and monitored for as many years as mandated by state and federal law.
PDC is mandated by law to properly continue to close and maintain the facility for 15 years after burying their last load of hazardous waste. Special Criteria to extend operpetual maintenance for perpetuity (billions of dollars) for one reason or another was rejected by 10 county board members.

The Love Canal expert was brought in to meet the purposes of Tom Edwards and Joyce Blumenshine; to terrorize the citizens of Peoria and some of its neighbors. Even today, Joyce Blumenshine, Chair, Heart of Illinois Sierra club continues to poison the air in Peoria. She writes “PDC knows that the geology and liners will not protect the aquifer. The liners will not last forever. What then?” Very little lasts forever but the believable experts testified that any slow seepage would be mitigated by the largely clayey subsurface in event of any small seepage thru the liners in a hundred to 500 years. Blumenshine questions whether $21 million be enough to begin attending that site 15 years from now. (The addendums voted down would have increased that figure to over $70 million dollars after 30 years of post closure.) Tim or staff, you worked these figures out, and it’s past my bedtime. Post a comment or email me and adjust or further explain. Since the addendum voted down I did not record accurately the numbers.

More truths and facts tomorrow.

1 comment:

B. Ridley Critz, III said...

Merle, you continue to focus on what you perceive to be the excesses of the environmentalists. Yet, you AVOID commenting on the most salient issue where the majority of the board voted against the project.

What about the "need for the expansion," i.e., to serve PEORIA COUNTY? The present facility, if it were to take our trash only, would last hundreds of years, at least. Yes, there are efficiencies, cost to tonnage benefits, from serving a greater area, and presumably some of this would help keep the county's and residents' costs down. I could see serving a few counties to obtain these benefits. But I refuse to believe, without a rigorous showing (which did not occur) that serving multiple states is needed to gain such efficiencies.

I do expect the plastic liners to break, eventually. Yet, "eventually" is a very long time and it does not bother me. When they do, though, remediation of a small landfill will be a whole lot cheaper, safer and easier than remediation of a huge one.

I am NOT one to villify the Coulter family. I believe they are decent folks and are doing everything possible to minimize the risk. And, unlike the die-hard environmentalists, I am not asking the impossible -- to prove ZERO risk.

Nonetheless, enough is enough. Unless there is a showing of need FOR OUR COUNTY, the majority of the board was correct and you are wrong.

You have represented us well, especially as to fiscal matters, Merle. I have voted for you before and had intended to do so again. Yet, this is THE issue of this decade, and you've lost my support -- unless you change your position before the final vote. Vote the same way, and I will vote for your retirement from politics.