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CLINTON -- Opponents and supporters of the proposed storage of chemical wastes at the Clinton Landfill say they are ready for the June 9 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing in Clinton.

An earlier hearing was postponed.

"We've had a very good team and we have worked very hard in preparation for the meeting," said Chris Coulter, vice president of Area Disposal, owners of the Clinton Landfill.

In January 2010, the Illinois EPA approved an application from Area Disposal to redesign 22.5 acres at the landfill for the disposal of various industrial wastes, including some containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

A DeWitt County watchdog group is opposed to the permit. George Wissmiller, president of WATCH (We're Against Toxic Chemicals), said the group plans on raising objections during the hearing that is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Clinton High School.

During the hearing, the EPA will give a brief presentation and the public then will have a chance to make comments.

Wissmiller says he has concerns about leakage from the landfill into groundwater, including the Mahomet Aquifer, the main source of fresh drinking water in much of Central Illinois. A retired police officer, Wissmiller said the landfill owners should do more to limit liability.

"You are always better off if you are in the right," Wissmiller said. "If the groundwater gets contaminated, Area Disposal will just declare bankruptcy and sit down. The EPA will say that they enforced the regulations and they will sit down. Everyone will be looking for someone to sue. Meanwhile, the health of our residents will be in danger."

But Coulter said he is confident the public hearing will go well.

"These hearings are the nature of the business and we look forward for the chance to present our plan, because we need facilities such as this for storage," he said. "We understand there is going to be opposition and we work hard to answer the questions that are raised."

Written or oral comments can be submitted at the meeting. Written comments may also be sent to the EPA but must be sent by midnight June 15 to Rafael Gonzalez, EPA Land and Chemicals Division, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604.

The EPA could make a final decision on the permit by the end of the year.


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