State, Federal, and University Officials Announce Collaboration

CHAMPAIGN, IL – The ongoing efforts of the Mahomet Aquifer Working Group are getting a major boost with the announcement May 2 of a collaborative effort by state, federal, and University of Illinois officials, according to State Sens. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), and US Congressmen Rodney Davis (R-Illinois 13). 
 
Several other area elected officials including representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R- Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D- Illinois) were joined by University of Illinois faculty and staff who will be helping review alternative PCB disposal solutions in order to provide environmentally-sustainable solutions to PCB clean up around the Midwest – rather than storing them over the Mahomet Aquifer as proposed by the Clinton Landfill, Inc. which has filed for a federal permit to do just that.
 
“The Mahomet Aquifer working group’s mission has been to let science drive this conversation – not politics or personalities.  It is not enough, in my view, to just be ‘opposed’ to this. We must look for and find ways to accomplish the very necessary objective of cleaning up these toxic waste sites that plague our neighbor.  But that cleanup must be done in an environmentally-sustainable way – not by simply moving the PCBs from one toxic waste site and creating the potential for another that risks the water supply for half a million people.  That is why today we are announcing this new collaborative relationship with the U of I that will focus on other means of dealing with PCBs than simply dumping them on top of the aquifer,” said Senator Rose.

“We need to work together to protect our sole source of drinking water.  I appreciate the University of Illinois’ partnership as we move forward to find solutions to solve this problem,” said Senator Frerichs.

“Protecting a vital natural resource like the Mahomet Aquifer isn’t a partisan issue, which is why I’m pleased to be joined by Senators Rose and Frerichs and the University of Illinois as we work to find unique, sustainable solutions for the proper disposal of PCBs,” said Congressmen Davis. “This project is going to take a big commitment from many different groups and individuals, but I’m confident that we’ve put together the right team to be able to get this done for the residents of central and east central Illinois.” 
 
The bipartisan, multi-governmental approach is being supported by the Illinois Environmental Council. The organization is a coalition partner with the Mahomet Aquifer Working Group.
 
A number of academic and technical experts associated with the University of Illinois have been actively engaged with the efforts of the Mahomet Aquifer Working Group since its inception in May 2013. Gary Miller, the Associate Executive Director of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, offered the University’s assessment of the collaboration.
 
“It is part of the University’s Land Grant and extension mission to assist communities with finding the answers to technical issues such as this,” Miller said. “The University has experts in many fields related to chemical and environmental engineering, and researchers who have looked at ways to help communities deal with water, waste and environmental issues.”
 
Senator Rose praised the University’s administration for their support.   “I very much appreciate President Bob Easter’s leadership on this matter.  The University of Illinois has stepped up to the plate in a very thoughtful way,” Rose said
 
“My hope is that this will be a win-win for everyone involved.  My constituents win because we will find an environmentally sustainable way to deal with the PCB threat – without the threat of poisoning our drinking water. The folks in the Great Lakes’ regions, the Village of Summit and elsewhere will win because we will help clean up their communities. The U of I wins via the opportunity to enhance its standing as a premier research institution. The students at the U of I will win with the chance to study and research at the forefront of new technology. And we may even be able to create some jobs in the process associated with the cleanup,” Rose concluded.

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