CHICAGO - The incinerator at the Paxton Avenue Lagoons hazardous waste site
was shut down Thursday after inspectors discovered 13 rows of bricks that line
a kiln inside the burner had collapsed.
The incinerator will be inoperable until at least Tuesday, Michael Orloff,
spokesman for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's suburban Maywood
office, told Paxton Avenue Lagoons Committee members .
No hazardous materials escaped into the atmosphere because of the breakdown
at 11 a.m., Orloff said. The cause of the collapse remains a mystery, but such
collapses are not uncommon.
The incinerator is owned by Roy Weston Inc. and licensed by the IEPA to burn
off hazardous waste, including PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, at the
Paxton Avenue Lagoons site near 122nd Street and Paxton Avenue, Chicago.
Tenth Ward Alderman John Buchanan introduced a resolution at the City
Council meeting Thursday urging Gov. Jim Edgar and the Illinois General
Assembly to "immediately continue an appropriation" to keep the Paxton Avenue
lagoon cleanup project going.
A contract between the state IEPA and Roy Weston will run out of money Sept.
30, Orloff said.
The contract calls for 16,000 tons of the hazardous waste to be burned, even
though another 16,000 tons of the highly toxic waste still needs to be
destroyed at the Paxton site, he said.
A nearby site, called the Alburn incinerator, includes thousands of drums
and spilled waste estimated to total still another 16,000 tons that should be
destroyed, he said.
The state provided $6 million to burn 16,000 tons of non-PCB hazardous waste
material at the Paxton site, Orloff said. It later provide an additional
$500,000 to burn up 1,500 tons of PCB-contaminated material discovered after
the burning started.
Burning off an addition 1,500 tons of hazardous waste at the Paxton Avenue
Lagoons site and 16,000 tons at the Alburn site may cost the state at least $15
million, he said.
The committee hopes the state will come up with at least $7.5 million to
start the project, Orloff said.
Bruce Rodman, IEPA's legislative liaison in Springfield, said he believes
Edgar would consider the toxic chemical storage fee as a revenue source for the
cleanup, but a legislator will have to lobby for it first.
He also said extra money for environmental cleanup is unlikely this year
because the state is in such dire financial condition.
Rep. Clement Balanoff, D-Chicago, said he has been told that Edgar will not
support a proposed fee on companies that store toxic chemicals to provide the
necessary cleanup revenue.
Although Balanoff and other environmentalists are working to close a
Southeast Side incinerator run by Chemical Waste Management Inc., he said the
mobile incinerator at the Paxton site appears to be the only way to destroy the