ATKINSON -- After a long discussion about problems at the Atkinson Landfill, the village board decided Tuesday night to test leachate produced at the now closed site to see if it is safe to be dumped into the village sewer system.|
The board action came after Jake VanHerzeele, hired by the village last December to monitor the site, said contaminated leachate is flowing from the landfill onto adjacent property, which is "completely unacceptable."
The leachate -- basically rain that has percolated through the site -- will contain traces of whatever is in the landfill and must be disposed of in keeping with environmental regulations.
The landfill, once owned by the village, was purchased in 1992 by Branko Vardijan of Chicago, who operated it as Atkinson Landfill Co. until it was closed by the EPA in August for exceeding the maximum permitted height of 711 feet.
The village quit taking the leachate at its sewer plant in 2010, after which it was trucked away until June of this year, according to Mr. VanHerzeele,
He said that since June, the leachate has been leaking from the site onto adjacent properties.
"We have a company that can do the testing if we can obtain samples of the leachate at the landfill," Mayor Ken Taber said, and asked board member Ray Elliott to get the samples.
Mayor Taber said he hopes the test results can be reported at the board meeting on Sept. 16.
"We have to get the leachate out of there now, and the area cleaned up. We do not have to take it, but we just need to get rid of it because it is overflowing at the site," the mayor said.
"We are hoping that after the testing is done, we can figure out how to alleviate the leachate problem, whether it be by us accepting it into our treatment plant or having him (Mr. Vardijan) take it elsewhere" he said. "It just needs to be cleaned up."
Mr. VanHerzeele told the board, "I felt it was time to come forward with this information because it directly affects the quality of life and real estate value of the citizens of Atkinson, in addition to the surrounding communities.
"Our publicly-elected officials have a moral obligation to act in the best interests of their constituents and I want to ensure that the people of Atkinson are well-informed about what's going on in their own back yard."
Mr. VanHerzeele said Mr. Vardijan "has repeatedly violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, has intentionally withheld information from the village pertaining to these violations and blamed everyone but himself in the process."
He said there were 27 total violations from a May 7 inspection by the IEPA.
"It is common for landfill operations to have some violations, with a heavy emphasis on 'some,' but repeated violations committed by the ALC are above and beyond what you would see at other facilities. The most disconcerting part is that this has been going on for some time now."
He listed the violations to include "causing, threatening or allowing water pollution in Illinois by creating a water pollution hazard – disposing, treating, storing or abandoning waste or transporting any waste into the state at or to sites not meeting requirements of the IEPA ACT and regulations, groundwater monitoring program requirements, failure to submit annual reports and water sample results to the Illinois EPA."