At 6:10pm there were about 110 people in attendance of an information gathering meeting on the recent landfill gases incident at Cortland Elementary School. The meeting was hosted at the Cortland Lions’ Shelter and organized by members of the Cortland PTA who have put together a community encompassing group, Clean Air For Cortland Elementary School.
From their Facebook page:
The meeting we held last night had a very good turnout with a group of dedicated community members. They are behind us parents and want to protect the future of Cortland! We learned from the EPA that there were violations and they will be testing where the odor came from to find out what we are dealing with. The EPA did however explain this might take awhile. We asked the School Board what we should do if we don’t feel comfortable sending our children to school in the meantime… they had no answers. They admitted something had to be done but it will take time. The parents of Cortland are left uneasy about the decision we must make come Tuesday to send our children or not. We learned a lot of scary facts as well. We have a long way to go!
In attendance was District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller, District 428 Board President Tracy Williams, County Board members Mark Pietrowski (District 3), Frank O’Barski (10) and Anthony Cvek (4), Stop the DeKalb County Mega-Dump Chair Dan Kenney, Illinois EPA Bureau of Land’s Kurt Neibergall and Waste Management’s Mike Hey, manager of the landfill in Cortland.
The IEPA has asked the Illinois Attorney General’s office to seek an immediate court order requiring Waste Management to take steps to prevent future incidents and to reimburse costs incurred by the school, first responders and individuals affected, including the cost of reasonable and necessary medical treatment.
Waste Management has already agreed to those conditions.
Neibergall said that the IEPA has not yet issued the permit required for Waste Management to proceed with the sevenfold expansion of the landfill. He was not in a position to respond when pressed whether the permit should be issued and whether a landfill and grade school can safely coexist within 1/4 mile apart.
That question should be considered by the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan. Madigan is currently appealing an Illinois Pollution Control Board approval that would allow the Clinton Landfill to store cancer-causing PCBs. The appeal was filed this week in state Appellate Court in Springfield. Clinton is 40 miles west of Champaign.
Tracy Williams said that all options are on the table as far as District 428 is concerned. If the school needs to be closed tomorrow it will be closed, he said. But the facts are still not in and the school district will put a plan in place based on the facts.
A citizen asked if a committee that included Cortland residents could be formed to help with that plan. Williams said the district is already considering that but would likely wait until after consulting with experts before any such committee could be formed.
While emotions were high it was a very respectful audience. A job well done by the organizers.