"Joliet is pushing the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to more than double the concentration of cancer-causing radium it's allowed to dump onto farmland in the south suburbs, expanding the potential for deadly radon gas in these increasingly urban communities.
Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive element abundant in deep-water wells in northern Illinois and throughout the Midwest. Cities such as Joliet that rely on these deep wells spend millions of dollars each year to remove radium from their drinking water. Some communities pay to dump radium in a landfill, but Joliet and others use a cheaper alternative, mixing it with waste material that is sold to farmers as fertilizer.
About 21,000 tons of Joliet's radium-enriched fertilizer has been dumped on area farms since 2005 The city is petitioning the state EPA to allow it to dispose of more than twice the level of radium that's currently allowed. If granted, it would be 10 times higher than what was considered safe just five years ago — rekindling concerns about the long-term exposure of concentrated radium on the soil."