Illinois environmental groups are urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would prohibit the incineration a toxic chemical class known as PFAS.
This is after the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed almost identical bills last year. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoed it.
We believed that a unanimous vote in both the houses was a sign we were on the right track, stated Sonya Lunder (Sierra Clubs senior toxics policy advisor), who was involved with the development of the bill.
PFAS can be described as a wide range of synthetic chemicals that are found in common household products, such as nonstick cookware and waterproof clothing. It is also a key component of many firefighting foams that are stored at military and municipal facilities.
Pritzker vetoed ultimately the bill due to how incineration was defined. He stated: in a letterThe bill would prohibit companies using pollution control devices like thermal oxidation to emit greenhouse gases and release other hazardous air pollutants.
The chemistry of PFASThe substances won’t be broken down if they have a strong carbon-fluorine link in human bodiesIt is also important to consider the environment. It has been shown to be linked to Groundwater contaminationExposure and a good reputation can make a difference. Cause cancer and other serious health conditions.
Legislation in the last years grewConcern about the Defense Departments approval of Veolia Environmental Services Incinerator in Sauget for disposing of the substance.Lunder explained that the plan was meant to help communities such as East St. Louis, Cahokia Heights and Cahokia Heights that have been overburdened by historical pollution.
She said the bill made a lot sense. It passed because legislators recognized that this community was severely impacted by multiple types contamination. We shouldn’t be adding questionable chemicals to their communities.
Veolia spokesperson said that although the company won’t accept material containing PFAS, it notes that the chemical is commonly found in many products and cannot guarantee that no PFAS passes through the Sauget incinerator.
The environmentalists wanted to Taken from a New York law similar to this that prohibits certain communities from burning PFAS.
We needed to take a preventive strike, said Nicole Saulsberry (Sierra Clubs Illinois state representative) at a recent virtual meeting.
We wanted to go further and ban PFAS incineration throughout the state, no matter where it’s located.
Lunder and other environmentalists pushed a blanket ban on burning PFAS due to concerns that the chemicals which are designed for resistance to heat don’t fully dissolve from incineration.
She said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the military raised concerns. In 2020, EPA advised that PFAS waste should be kept until better technologies can be developed and validated for its destruction.
Lunder explained that contamination can easily escape from incinerators if they experience malfunctions.
A spokesperson for Illinois Manufacturing Association said that approximately 10 companies reached out to the association, expressing concern about the legislation. Their ability to control pollution would be negatively affected by legislation passed last year. He said that the association supports the bill’s intent to limit commercial incineration but not to hurt. What manufacturers can do.
Lunder stated that there were only a few last-minute conversations behind the scenes and attempts to weaken it, and it didn’t get through the process in the time allowed during the veto session.
Cheryl Sommer, president of United Congregations of Metro East, stated that there were also attempts to change the definition of PFAS to exclude newer versions of chemicals.
She stated that some wanted a reduced version that would make the bill less significant.
Sommer said that she and other local residents and activists were frustrated by last year’s veto of the bills.
She said it was shameful that the people who live in this community don’t seem to care, and that they don’t feel any urgency.
The legislation for this year will be introduced within the next weeks. It uses a slightly more narrow definition of incineration. Advocates expect that the governor will not veto it. State Rep. LaToyaGreenwood (D-East St. Louis) sponsoredLast years billShe expressed hope that the version she is working on this year will not face much resistance.
She said that she hoped they could do the same thing as last year. I’ve had conversations with my colleagues about the fact that the legislation is back for another vote.
Sommer said that the legislation will likely face strong resistance from some groups, much like last year.
She said, “I know the truth of what we are up against.”
Eric Schmid covers the Metro East area for St. Louis Public Radio in the Journalism Grant Program: Report for AmericaGroundTruth Project initiative,.