MOUNT VERNON – The Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed an Illinois Pollution Control Board’s decision stipulating that regulations require extension of a sanitary landfill’s post-closure upkeep beyond 15 years if the possibility of a future violation still exists.
The action was for an administrative review of a final decision and order from the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
According to the court's order, D&L Landfill applied for certification from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), stipulating that it had completed post-closure care of a sanitary landfill. After the IEPA denied the petition due to groundwater beneath the site still containing levels of contaminants that exceeded levels permitted by the board's groundwater quality regulations, D&L appealed to the board for summary judgment on the grounds it is only legally obligated to provide monitoring for the landfill for 15 years.
D&L representatives added that no specific amendment states that post-closure care extends beyond that time frame, specifically pointing to regulations that have directly extended the post-closure care period for new landfills that remained open past 1994 as prime evidence for its position.
In rendering its decision, the court ruled that “D&L's interpretation is inconsistent with the (Illinois Environmental Protection) Act's purposes and fails to harmonize the statutory provisions relating to post-closure care. Construing the Act liberally to effectuate its purposes, we decline to interpret section 22.17 (a) as narrowly as D&L suggests.”
The court also asserted that it agrees with the board’s finding that it is possible to violate sections of the law even if the facility has ceased accepting waste material on site.
The Fifth District’s ruling was delivered by Justice Thomas M. Welch with Justice David K. Overstreet concurring.
Created in 1970 by the Environmental Protection Act, the Illinois Pollution Control Board is entrusted with adopting the state’s environmental regulations and deciding contested cases whenever they bubble to the surface.