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County warns groundwater monitoring necessary at local quarries, risk of contamination high

IL Pollution Board ruling puts county’s wells, drinking water at risk of contamination

JOLIET, IL – The Will County Board today called on the Illinois Pollution Control Board to reverse its recent decision and require groundwater monitoring at dozens of quarries that accept demolition debris. Quarries have depths close to the water table, posing risks to local drinking water.

“The Pollution Control Board’s decision puts our citizens and our environment at great risk,” said Chairman Jim Moustis. “Therefore, I am calling on them to reconsider the risks to our groundwater and the health of our residents. Strong safeguards are absolutely necessary before millions of tons of potentially toxic debris are dumped into our quarries. We are prepared to protect our citizens with whatever legal recourse is required.”

There are 11 quarries in Will County accepting demolition debris, along with 398 private wells and 43 public wells providing drinking water for 350,000 local residents. Under the current law, contaminated soils are restricted as a special waste for disposal only at a sanitary landfill and numerous environmental protections are in place, but quarries do not face these regulations.

“The Pollution Control Board is charged with protecting the state’s environment, not the profits of quarry owners,” said Majority Whip Lee Ann Goodson (R-Plainfield). “Many Will County residents rely on groundwater for their drinking water, and we will not allow them to be dumped on.”

The Pollution Control Board indicated requiring groundwater monitoring could be an unreasonable expense for quarry owners, but the Illinois EPA (IEPA) and Attorney General warned any extra cost for quarries would not compare to the extremely high cleanup costs if groundwater were contaminated. In addition, the Pollution Control Board also decided to loosen regulations on the chemical concentrations allowed in dirt and debris dumped in quarries. However, the Attorney General’s office has already filed 11 lawsuits against quarries for accepting polluted materials and failing to test loads.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Minority Leader Walter Adamic (D-Joliet). “Without thorough groundwater testing, the Pollution Control Board’s protections fall short of safeguarding our water supply from toxic contaminants. When it comes to contaminated drinking water, there are no grey areas. Everything must be done in order to assure our citizens that the water is safe and clean.”

The Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will discuss the issue at its July 10th meeting. The Pollution Control Board has a July 29th deadline to complete and publish its final rules. In the meantime, the Will County Board is urging residents to contact their state lawmakers and voice strong opposition to the draft regulations.


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