PEORIA -- A split in the ranks of Peoria's environmental activists over Peoria Disposal Co.'s hazardous waste landfill at Pottstown threatens to weaken what has been a tough, even revolutionary group.
On Feb. 23, the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club and Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste issued a complex compromise proposal to PDC that would allow limited landfill expansion in return for concessions, including a hefty trust fund to protect the site in the future.
But others involved in the fight to stop the PDC landfill expansion have denounced the compromise.
Using his group River Rescue, Tom Edwards initiated the 7,000-signature petition that helped persuade the Peoria County Board to reject siting for the landfill expansion. Edwards said Monday, Feb. 26 that he opposes the compromise.
"It's a terrible situation that they’re doing this," Edwards said. The petition states that the landfill should be closed, he added.
Activist Jean Roach has sent a letter to the County Board. "Speaking only for myself," she wrote, "I would encourage you to accept that the position of Families and the Sierra Club as recently announced, comes from no broad public consensus. You would be well advised to seek broader public opinion before assuming that Families and the Sierra Club represent the views of the public at large. In saying this, I in no way question the motives or behavior of the hard working leaders of Families and the Sierra Club. I do, however, question their judgment. And I do ask the Board to continue to stand vigilant in protecting the environmental safety of our county. With the burial of toxic waste, ‘Enough is Enough’ has been and will continue to be the clarion call for citizens like me."
In an e-mail, she stated that others also have split with the Families group over this issue.
The landfill expansion decision is difficult and complex with many unknowns, including whether PDC will accept a compromise.
PDC could win its expansion by one of two routes: its appeal to the Illinois Pollution Control Board then to the Appellate Court or by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's renewal of its operating permit, where its application includes an expansion plan.
A hearing on that application is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the auditorium at the Peoria Public Library, at Main and Monroe streets.
PDC's win at either level likely would not include a trust fund to protect the county from future problems.
The compromise would stop the litigation and set up a trust fund and other protections, but would also allow more waste at the site.
In her letter Roach also notes that the activists should not be negotiating on this playing field with heavyweights such as PDC.
Whatever happens, this split over tactics by the landfill opponents is an unsettling surprise.