Owners of the Wilsonville hazardous waste site said yesterday they want to abandon their legal war and remove buried toxic wastes, handing village residents a precedent-setting victory.
Some environmental experts believe the Wilsonville case represents the first in the nation in which a legally permitted waste site has been ordered exhumed, Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner said.
"We're flying high," said Gwen Molinar, leader in the five-year battle against the dump. She said 50 of the village's 700 residents planned to attend a hearing in Macoupin County Circuit Court.
Lawyers for the landfill's owners, SCA Services Inc. of Boston, said they want Judge John Russell to accept a tentative cleanup plan.
Fahner said Russell must decide whether to certify an agreement under which the company would give up a planned appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, remove all materials and contaminated soil at the dump and clean out trenches where leaking toxic chemicals have been found.
Fahner said the project could cost SCA $10 million to $20 million and could start this summer. The wastes include paint sludges, cancer-linked PCBs, pesticides, mercury, cyanide and asbestos.
The landfill in the village 40 miles northeast of St. Louis was opened in 1976 with state and federal Environmental Protection Agency permits. Residents starting fighting it the next spring.
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court, citing recent EPA reports, said SCA could no longer delay removing the wastes.