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Shaw to Buffalo Grove: Don't take landfill study out of context
By Steve Zalusky | Daily Herald Staff

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency agreed to hold a hearing before ending monitoring at the Land and Lakes Landfill.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2006

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Published: 10/5/2010 1:55 PM | Updated: 10/5/2010 2:43 PM

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The head of the environmental group that in 2005 conducted a preliminary study of Buffalo Grove's Land and Lakes Landfill wrote a letter to village officials last month labeling it "inappropriate" to use its findings to question the site's safety.

In the letter, sent Sept. 23 to Buffalo Grove Village Manager Dane Bragg, Shaw Environmental Inc. Director Devin Moose writes that the study never was finished and its early findings were based on incomplete information.

"Upon completion of our initial review, we had identified some potential concerns which were only tentative pending a review of some missing data" Moose states. "Since then, no additional information has been received by Shaw.

"In light of the tentative and incomplete nature of the preliminary report, I believe that it is inappropriate for anyone to be using it to develop conclusions regarding the facility or on the health and safety of the public," he adds.

The Shaw study, begun in 2005 but later abandoned, has been cited by Trustee Lisa Stone to raise concerns about possible groundwater and air contamination from the landfill, at 1300 Milwaukee Ave.

Village President Elliott Hartstein read the letter aloud at Monday's village board meeting, saying it was not requested but sent by Shaw out of concern for how their work was being represented.

Moose states he wrote the letter "in response to the many articles which have appeared in the Daily Herald newspaper" about the landfill.

Stone responded to the letter after stepping down from the dais where trustees normally sit and going to the podium reserved for citizens.

She said she was pleased to see the letter because, as Shaw had said, it was never allowed to complete its study. Stone said the study needs to be completed, because of the lack of adequate groundwater monitoring and the presence in groundwater monitors of phenol and other contaminants.

"The public has asked why didn't you finish the study," she said to Hartstein. "Your answer is always, 'It has been asked and answered. It has been asked and answered.' Well, no, you have never really answered it at all, President Hartstein."

Stone said her only concern is the health and safety of the community.

"I don't want to be right" that there is something wrong with the landfill, she added.

Hartstein called Stone's decision to speak at the podium "highly unorthodox."

"I would urge that you participate as a trustee, which you were elected to do," he told her. "You're basically ignoring the fact that you are a member of this board, and the purpose is to work with the board as a trustee to deal with issues affecting the community."

"And the reason it is unorthodox, the reason I'm doing this, is because what you have been doing for many, many months is unorthodox," Stone replied, referring to what she called the passage of "several sets of rules" that have "stifled my speech."

When Hartstein reminded her that her time to speak was running out, she berated him, asking "At any point are you going to prioritize the substance of what we're talking about over the time?"

Members of the public also addressed the landfill Monday. Among them was Matthew Cohn, an environmental lawyer, former hydrogeologist and current member of the village plan commission.

"I am personally not afraid of the Land and Lakes landfill," he said.

He suggested village officials allow the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to address the safety concerns, calling the board's discussions a colossal waste of time.

"If (the IEPA considers) the Land and Lakes facility a danger, then they will tell Land and Lakes to do more," Cohn said. "If they think that more monitoring for phenol is a good idea, I think it's a good idea. I don't think that this board should be debating it."

But Brenda Weiss of Lincolnshire, a former biology teacher and environmental activist, urged trustees to continue looking into the landfill.

She said Stone was "fulfilling what I believe to be any board member's duty to act on behalf of the welfare and safety of Buffalo Grove residents."

The debate over the Shaw review could come to a head at a Nov. 9 IEPA hearing at Buffalo Grove's village hall. The landfill is at the end of its 15-year monitoring phase, but that could be extended to 30 years.