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CLINTON — The federal Environmental Protection Agency will hold off on making a determination on Clinton Landfill's application to accept hazardous waste, due to a recent modification of the permit that would allow collections to begin.

"In light of the Illinois EPA's recent permit modification for Clinton Landfill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not intend to proceed at this time with a determination on Clinton Landfill's application to accept PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) waste," said an agency statement released to The Pantagraph on Wednesday.  

U.S. EPA spokesman Josh Singer declined further comment and referred further inquiries to the Illinois EPA.

On July 31, under orders from Gov. Pat Quinn, the state EPA modified a permit the state issued in 2008 to the landfill. The new permit prohibits the facility from accepting federally-regulated PCB waste unless certain conditions are met, including approval of the local siting authority.

Clinton Landfill applied to the federal EPA in 2007 for approval under the Toxic Substances Control Act to accept PCB waste at the Clinton Landfill, located a few miles south of Clinton.

Illinois EPA spokesperson Kim Biggs said Wednesday the federal agency's decision makes sense.

"The federal EPA makes the final decision on the permit, but it goes back to Gov. Quinn's order for us to modify the permit," she said. "Basically, they are going to wait for the process to finish again at the state level before making any kind of decision."

Landfill owner, Peoria-based Area Disposal, was not advised of the U.S. EPA announcement and declined comment. But late last week, the company announced it will appeal the state ban, while abiding by the decision until "all of the litigation is settled and resolved." 

The president of We Are Against Toxic Chemicals, a local watchdog group fighting against the storage of PCBs at Clinton, said he's glad the federal EPA decision is postponed.

"WATCH has always claimed that Illinois local and state laws had been violated by not having a local public siting and that the request for a Toxic Substance Control Act designation was in violation of federal law due to this fact," said Bill Spencer.

He sees the federal delay as being in agreement with the "citizens of Illinois that want to protect their water and way of life by stopping any further action on this federal application to store hazardous waste at the Clinton Landfill." 

Dozens of area communities that sit over the Mahomet Aquifer fear groundwater could be contaminated by PCBs that can cause cancer and other health problems. The aquifer is an underground water source for those communities. Landfill officials contend extensive safeguards would prevent any leakage.

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