DeWitt County State’s Attorney Submits FOIA About Coalition Supporters
The City of Champaign joined an intergovernmental Coalition that was created in 2010 to prevent the introduction of PCB’s into the landfill above the Mahomet Aquifer, the source of drinking water for most of Central Illinois. Other members of the Coalition are Champaign County, the City of Urbana, the City of Bloomington, the Town of Normal, the City of Decatur, Piatt County, the Village of Savoy, and the Mahomet Valley Water Authority.
The Coalition is engaged in litigation which advocates that DeWitt County be required to hold a local siting hearing before the introduction of large amounts of PCB’s into the Clinton Landfill. The hearing would allow evidence of the impact of the PCB’s on the environment and permit the evaluation of the risk to the aquifer.
On November 14, 2013, the DeWitt County Board passed a Resolution supporting the Coalition’s legal position in this litigation. DeWitt County joins the Coalition members as well as the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois in supporting this legal position that the DeWitt County Board should be permitted to conduct a local siting hearing concerning the proposed introduction of large amounts of PCB’s into the landfill. Champaign’s Mayor, Don Gerard, remarked, “I think it’s fair to say that the member governments of the Coalition are very pleased that the DeWitt County Board supports efforts to provide a forum to allow the public to hear experts testify as to the risks to the aquifer that result from the introduction of large amounts of PCB’s into the existing landfill. They have not had this opportunity yet.”
This past week, the DeWitt County State’s Attorney issued a Freedom of Information Act request directed to the City of Champaign which seeks communication between the City of Champaign and citizens, including DeWitt County Board members, and news media on record who have opposed the introduction of large amounts of PCB’s into the Clinton Landfill without the required local siting hearing. Champaign’s Mayor, Don Gerard, in reacting to the request said, “I’m puzzled by the action. I’m not sure how the FOIA request is related to the important public safety concerns involving placing PCB’s over the aquifer.”
The day following the FOIA request by the DeWitt County State’s Attorney, the attorney for the landfill owner sent a letter threatening civil litigation against the DeWitt County Board for its actions in supporting the Coalition’s legal position. Mayor Gerard stated, “As public officials, we should support the free exchange of information and environmental concern vital to not only inhabitants of DeWitt County, but citizens of Central Illinois. Attempts to suppress legitimate public discourse by threatening litigation does not help promote the public’s interest or assure the public safety of the citizens in our region.”
The City of Champaign supports the goals of the Coalition which would require a local siting hearing and approval by the DeWitt County Board before PCB’s are introduced into the Clinton Landfill.