Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Illinois Pollution Control Board's Annual Report for 2009

The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued its Annual Report for 2009.

The Annual Report features a letter from Chairman Girard, biographies of the Board's members, a rulemaking summary, a summary of appellate court opinions reviewing the Board's decisions, and a summary of environmental legislation.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Waste Management Settles State Enforcement Action Alleging Water Pollution Violations

On December 17, 2009, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted the settlement of a State enforcement action in the case of People v. Waste Management of Illinois, Inc., No. PCB 10-29.  The case concerns a site located in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois.

The State's complaint alleged that Waste Management (1) discharged material containing solids and liquids of obvious color from a garbage truck into a storm sewer inlet, which caused, allowed or threatened a water pollution hazard, offensive discharges into waters of the State, (2) discharged contaminants so as to cause water pollution, and (3) discharged contaminants into waters of the State from a point source without coverage under an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

As part of the settlement, Waste Management admits the alleged violations and agrees to pay a civil penalty of $9,500.00.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ohio Joins U.S. Supreme Court Fight Regarding Asian Carp

On December 23, 2009, the State of Ohio filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the State of Michigan's complaint seeking action to prevent the Asian carp from infiltrating the Great Lakes.  Like Michigan, Ohio blames Chicago's prior water diversion projects for giving the Asian carp access to the Great Lakes.  Here is the specific action requested by the State of Ohio:

"But for the defendants’ actions in the early twentieth century—the construction and operation of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal—the Great Lakes would not now be threatened by the steady march of the Asian carp up the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  By sanctioning the ongoing diversion of water from Lake Michigan, this Court’s 1967 consent decree permits the continued operation of that Canal.  Therefore, the State of Michigan has appropriately sought a modification of that decree: Until the State of Illinois, the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago, and the United States agree to take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent the introduction of the carp into Lake Michigan, this Court must modify its decree to prohibit all further diversion of water from Lake Michigan into the Canal—thereby closing the door to the carp’s entryway into the Great Lakes, and to the irreparable damage that would ensue."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Plastic Bag Manufacturer Settles State Enforcement Action Alleging Air Pollution Violations

The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently accepted the settlement of a State enforcement action in the case of People v. Golden Bag Co., PCB No. 06-144.  The case concerned a plastic bag manufacturing facility located at 290 Illinois Street, Dundee, Kane County, Illinois.

The State alleged that the Defendant (1) caused, threatened, or allowed the discharge or emission of a contaminant into the environment through the production of scented bags resulting in the uncontrolled emission of volatile organic materials; (2) failed to obtain the requisite construction permits for the emission sources which it constructed at the facility; (3) failed to obtain an operating permit for its new emissions sources and air pollution control equipment; (4) operated a major source without a Clean Air Act Permit Program permit; (5) failed to comply with the new source review regulations as a result of its location in a severe ozone nonattainment area; (6) failed to submit complete and accurate annual emissions reports; (7) failed to demonstrate compliance with regulations governing flexographic printing operations; and (8) failed to comply recordkeeping and reporting requirements for flexographic printing operations.

As part of the settlement, the Defendant neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations.  Also, the Defendant agreed to pay a civil penalty of $20,000.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Packaging Materials Manufacturer Settles Federal Enforcement Action Alleging Hazardous Waste Violations

On December 22, 2009, U.S. EPA announced that it settled an enforcement action against Clear Lam Packaging, an Elk Grove, Illinois manufacturer of flexible and rigid packaging materials.

U.S. EPA alleged that Clear Lam "failed to have a hazardous waste storage permit, maintain aisle space in the hazardous waste storage area, keep hazardous waste containers closed, provide annual employee training and keep records about it, and have a complete contingency plan."

Clear Lam will pay a $20,750 penalty and perform an environmental project costing at least $221,000.  It will "help protect the environment and public health by purchasing, installing and operating a solvent recovery system that will recycle approximately 100,000 gallons of hazardous waste annually."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Michigan Sues to Spark Action to Block Asian Carp

On December 21, 2009, the State of Michigan filed a petition and motion for a preliminary injunction asking the U.S. Supreme Court to order the State of Illinois, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "to immediately take all available measures within their respective control, consistent with the protection of public health and safety, to prevent the migration of bighead and silver carp into Lake Michigan, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

(a) Closing and ceasing operation of the locks at the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago Controlling Works.

(b) Operating the sluice gates at the O'Brien Lock and Dam, the Chicago Controlling Works, and the Wilmette Pumping Station in a manner that will not allow fish to pass those structures into Lake Michigan. This should include maintaining the waterways at the lowest level possible that is still consistent with protecting against serious threats to public health and safety, and limits opening the gates except as required to prevent significant flooding that threatens public health or safety.

(c) Installing interim Barriers or structures as needed in the Grand and Little Calumet Rivers to prevent the migration of bighead and silver carp into Lake Michigan.

(d) Installing interim Barriers or structures between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to prevent bighead and silver carp from entering the Canal from the Des Plaines River during a flood event.

(e) Operating the existing Electrical Dispersal Barrier System at full operating power and expediting completion of the proposed Barrier IIB.

(f) Comprehensively monitoring the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and all connected waterways for the presence and location of bighead and silver carp using the best available methods and techniques.

(g) Eradicating any bighead or silver carp discovered in these waters."

Responding to critics who have said that these proposed steps would harm the shipping industry, Michigan says that "no doubt [there would] be economic injury, but the damage will be finite, and will be miniscule in comparison to the economic harm caused should the carp enter the Great Lakes."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rejecting Federal Officer Removal, Federal Court Remands Contamination Case to State Court

On December 15, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois remanded the case of Custer v. Cerro Flow Products, Inc., No. 09-514-DRH, to State court, rejecting the defendants' purported removal to Federal court based on the Federal Officer Removal Statute.

The Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in State court alleging that they suffered serious life-threatening illnesses, including cancer, or that they have suffered property damage, as a result of exposure to hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls ("PCBs").  The Plaintiffs alleged that those substances were wrongfully disposed at three sites near Sauget, Illinois and released into the environment.

The Defendants attempted to remove the lawsuit to Federal court (i.e., the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois) based on the Federal Officer Removal Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1), which provides:

"A civil action or criminal prosecution commenced in a State court against any of the following may be removed by them to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place wherein it is pending: (1) The United States or any agency thereof or any officer (or any person acting under that officer) of the United States or of any agency thereof, sued in an official or individual capacity for any act under color of such office or on account of any right, title or authority claimed under any Act of Congress for the apprehension or punishment of criminals or the collection of the revenue."

The Defendants alleged that the PCBs produced at their facilities were part of a contract with the federal government to produce chemicals for the war effort.  However, the Court found that federal officer removal did not apply here and that the case should be remanded back to State Court.  Specifically, the Court held that Defendants did not act under the direction of a federal officer:

"[N]one of the evidence submitted by Defendants shows the federal government ordered the Defendants to continue production of PCBs or that the government directed the Defendants in how to handle or dispose of the PCBs that they produced. Once again, the production of PCBs is not at issue in this case, it is the mishandling of PCBs which is the basis of Plaintiffs’ complaint.  Therefore, the Defendants have not demonstrated that the government directed Defendants in the handling of PCBs nor have they demonstrated that the production of PCBs forms the basis of the liability alleged in this action."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Illinois EPA Announces Cleanup of Illegal Dump Site

On December 16, 2009, the Illinois EPA announced a plan to cleanup an illegal dump site located at 140 Kohl Street, Creve Coeur, Tazewell County, Illinois.

Illinois EPA "will clean up approximately 200 cubic yards of used and waste tires, white goods, vehicles, general construction or demolition debris, and general household refuse" at the property.

"While all illegally dumped waste presents an environmental and safety problem, improperly disposed tires provide a breeding habitat for the type of mosquito that is the primary carrier of the West Nile Virus.  The Illinois EPA’s Used Tire Program removes waste tires and other materials that provide mosquito habitat.  The Agency’s I-RID (Illinois Removes Illegal Dumps) Program facilitates the removal of waste at orphan dump sites, which prevents future dumping on public and private properties."

The cleanup is expected to be completed by mid-January 2010.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Cleanup at Waukegan Lakefront Superfund Site to Continue

According to a recent article in the Lake County News-Sun, the U.S. EPA and the State of Illinois are set to invest tens of millions of dollars to continue cleanup at the Outboard Marine Corporation ("OMC") Superfund Site.

Here is how U.S. EPA describes the OMC Site: It "is located on Lake Michigan around the northern Waukegan Harbor area in Waukegan, Illinois.  The site contains four cleanup parcels, called "operable units" (OU).  The Waukegan Harbor (WH) site is OU #1.  The Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plant (WCP) site is OU #2.  The PCB containment cells that were created when the harbor was cleaned up in 1990-1993 comprise OU #3, and the OMC Plant 2 site is OU #4.

"Waukegan Harbor is a federally-authorized harbor that was constructed in the late 1800s. . . . From approximately 1948 to 1971, OMC purchased an estimated 8 million gallons of hydraulic fluid that contained PCBs and used it in its OMC Plant 2 building in its die casting process to make outboard motors.  The fluids containing PCBs were sometimes discharged through floor drains onto the OMC Plant 2 property and also into Waukegan Harbor.  As a result, 700,000 pounds of PCBs were estimated to be present in the soil on the OMC Plant 2 site and 300,000 pounds of PCBs were in the sediment in Waukegan Harbor.  OMC cleaned up PCB-contaminated northern harbor sediment and some of the OMC Plant 2 soils in 1990-1993.

"OMC also operated several vapor degreasers at the OMC Plant 2 facility to clean newly made parts with trichloroethylene (TCE).  Leaking degreasers and/or TCE storage tanks have created a widespread TCE groundwater contaminant plume and an isolated dense, non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) pool of TCE beneath the OMC Plant 2 site.  OMC abandoned the Plant 2 facility in December 2002.

"In the early 1900s, a wood-treating plant operated on the WCP site, followed by a manufactured gas plant in the 1920s and a coke oven gas plant in the 1940s.  The plant was purchased and disassembled by OMC in approximately 1972.  The WCP site was discovered during OMC's harbor cleanup in 1990.  It has arsenic and polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) soil contamination and the groundwater is contaminated with high levels of ammonia, arsenic, benzene, and phenol."

According to the Lake County News-Sun article, the new cleanup work will include dredging of the Waukegan Harbor:

"The harbor will be dredged to reduce PCB levels in sediments to 0.2 parts per million. . . . The dredging will go as deep as 10 to 15 feet, depending on what core samples reveal about PCBs in the sediment.  After dredging, a 6-inch layer of sand will cap the harbor floor."

"The sediment will be pumped to the city-owned grounds at OMC Plant No. 2.  Eventually, the sediment will be covered with clean fill and could be turned into a park.  Water from the sediment will be returned to the harbor after meeting federal clean drinking water standards.

"The federal government is paying 90 percent of the estimated $35 million project, and the state will cover the other 10 percent. The project should be completed by 2012.

"Demolition of the final 600,000 square feet of OMC Plant No. 2 will cost about $21 million, funded by a federal economic stimulus grant.  PCBs, trichloroethylene (TCE) and asbestos must be removed before most of that building can be demolished by Tecnica Environmental Services and Brandenburg Industrial Services Co., both minority-owned businesses from Chicago.

"The remnant of Plant No. 2 that houses a decontamination unit, which is cleaning groundwater at the gas and coke plant site, will remain for another two to three years. The project to remove TCE from groundwater at the Plant No. 2 site will begin after building demolition is complete in 2010.  That work will take two months, and then the site will be monitored for a year.

"The TCE plume in the groundwater will be treated with iron filings and clay.  Iron reacts with trichloroethylene, which was used as a degreaser, rendering it harmless.  The clay will bind the sand aquifer to stop groundwater from flowing through the site.

"Environmental engineers also will inject sodium lactate, which is food for the naturally occurring bacteria that is already breaking down the TCE.  Bioremediation would take about four years."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Federal Government Allocates $13 Million to Fight Asian Carp

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the federal government will allocate $13 million to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.  The money will come from the $475 million fund that Congress appropriated for a comprehensive restoration of the Great Lakes.

The $13 million "will be used for engineering projects to prevent the carp from slipping into Lake Michigan near Chicago. They include closing conduits and shoring up low-lying lands between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal — which leads to the lake — and other waterways."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Builder Settles State Enforcement Action Alleging Water Pollution Violations

On December 3, 2009, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted the proposed settlement in the case of People v. Montalbano Builders, Inc., PCB No. 09-30.  The allegations concerned Montalbano’s development property known as the Huntington Ridge subdivision located on the southwest corner of Harvard Hills and Crowley Road in Harvard, McHenry County, Illinois.

The State alleged that Montalbano violated environmental law "by (1) causing, threatening, or allowing the discharge of silt-laden runoff from the site into the waters of the State resulting in water pollution, (2) allowing disturbed soils and soil stockpiles with inadequate erosion controls to remain adjacent to wetland areas resulting in a water pollution hazard, and (3) failing to maintain adequate stormwater pollution prevention measures and discharging silt-laden runoff from the site into the adjacent wetland and waters of the State in violation of Montalbano’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit."

Under the settlement, Montalbano agrees to pay a civil penalty of $10,000.00 but does not affirmatively admit the violations alleged by the State.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Illinois Appellate Court Denies Siting of Kankakee Landfill

On December 4, 2009, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District, issued an opinion in the case of County of Kankakee v. Illinois Pollution Control Board, No. 3-04-0271.  At issue in this case was an application by Town & Country Utilities, Inc. and Town & Country and Kankakee Regional Landfill, LLC to site a landfill within the City of Kankakee, Illinois.  The proposed landfill was located 1 & 3/4 miles away from an existing landfill run by Waste Management of Illinois, Inc.

Under Illinois law (415 ILCS 5/39.2), a county board or governing body of a municipality has authority to approve or disapprove a request for local siting approval for landfills.  Local siting approval shall be granted only if the proposed facility meets the following criteria:
(i) the facility is necessary to accommodate the waste needs of the area it is intended to serve;
(ii) the facility is so designed, located and proposed to be operated that the public health, safety and welfare will be protected;
(iii) the facility is located so as to minimize incompatibility with the character of the surrounding area and to minimize the effect on the value of the surrounding property;
(iv) for a facility that is a sanitary landfill or waste disposal site, the facility is located outside the boundary of the 100‑year floodplain, or (under certain circumstances) if the site is flood‑proofed;
(v) the plan of operations for the facility is designed to minimize the danger to the surrounding area from fire, spills, or other operational accidents;
(vi) the traffic patterns to or from the facility are so designed as to minimize the impact on existing traffic flows;
(vii) if the facility will be treating, storing or disposing of hazardous waste, an emergency response plan exists for the facility which includes notification, containment and evacuation procedures to be used in case of an accidental release;
(viii) if the facility is to be located in a county where the county board has adopted a solid waste management plan consistent with the planning requirements of the Local Solid Waste Disposal Act or the Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, the facility is consistent with that plan; and
(ix) if the facility will be located within a regulated recharge area, any applicable requirements specified by the Pollution Control Board for such areas have been met.

The County of Kankakee case dealt primarily with the eighth criterion (whether the facility is consistent with the county's solid waste management plan).  The Kankakee County Solid Waste Management Plan had been amended to prohibit landfills within Kankakee County, except for "an expansion of the existing landfill on the real property that is contiguous to the existing landfill" run by Waste Management.

The issue was whether the proposed landfill was "contiguous to the existing landfill", even though the proposed landfill was located 1 & 3/4 miles away from the existing landfill.  The Kankakee City Council and the Illinois Pollution Control Board ruled that the proposed landfill was, in fact, contiguous.  However, the Appellate Court of Illinois disagreed and held that the proposed landfill was not contiguous.  The Court found that the "proposed landfill was the immediate object of the County's decision to preclude 'non-contiguous landfilling.  As such, the County intended its use of the word 'contiguous' to prevent what Applicants were proposing--a new landfill located 1 3/4 miles away from Waste Management's existing landfill."  Therefore, the Court held that the Pollution Control Board "erred in finding that the proposed landfill was contiguous to the existing landfill for purposes of the County's solid waste management plan."  As a result, the Court decided that the request for local siting approval must be denied.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Environmental Register for November 2009

The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued its Environmental Register publication for November 2009. 

The Environmental Register features a letter from Chairman Girard, an appellate court update, a rulemaking update, a summary of actions of the Board, a summary of new cases, and the Board's calendar.

I will be blogging about some of the news contained in this publication. Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

U.S. EPA Confirms School Property Not Contaminated By Drycleaner

According to a recent article in the River Forest Leaves newspaper, the U.S. EPA conducted testing to confirm that the soil at St. Luke Parish School in River Forest is environmentally safe.
The school is across the street from River Forest Dry Cleaners, located at 7613 Lake Street.  The dry cleaners is listed on Illinois EPA's Site Remediation Program database, and, according to the article, it is "contaminated with perchloroethylene, commonly used by dry cleaners."  Testing has apparently confirmed, however, that the contamination did not migrate to the school's property.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

$3 Million Awarded to Install Sewage Treatment and Septic Systems in Ridgewood

According to an Illinois EPA press release, the State of Illinois will award $3 million in federal stimulus money and llinois EPA grants and loans to improve old and ailing sewage and drainage systems in Ridgewood, near Joliet in Will County.

The money will be used to "pay for installing modern sewage treatment and septic systems to more than 180 homes, which now have inadequate or non-existent sewage or septic systems.  Improvements will also be made to ensure a safe source of drinking water for 368 residential properties."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Defendants Settle State Enforcement Actions Alleging Water Pollution Violations

On December 3, 2009, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted settlements of two State enforcement actions alleging water pollution violations.

The case of People v. City of Pekin, No. PCB 07-47, concerned the City of Pekin's waste water treatment plant ("WWTP") at 606 South Front Street, in Pekin, Tazewell County.  The State alleged that the City (1) caused or allowed the discharge of contaminants into waters of the State in violation of the terms or conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permit, (2) discharged said contaminates in violation of the regulations or standards adopted by the Pollution Control Board, (3) discharged the contaminants so as to cause water pollution, (4) failed to ensure that all treatment works and associated facilities were constructed and operated as to minimize violations of applicable standards during such contingencies as flooding, etc., (5) failed to comply with the monitoring, sampling, recording and reporting requirements set forth in the NPDES permit, (6) allowed bypasses and overflows of untreated wastewater to occur, and (7) failed to have a certified Class I operator to supervise the operation of the WWTP.

Under the settlement, the City will pay a civil penalty of $14,483.00.

The case of People v. J.B. Timmermann Farms, Ltd., PCB 07-70, concerned a dairy operation that houses approximately 675 milking cows, located on the north side of Highline Road, in Section 28 of Breese Township, Clinton County.  The State alleged that the defendant allowed a livestock waste lagoon to overflow into Shoal Creek without a NPDES permit for the site and deposited contaminants on land in a manner that created a water pollution hazard. 

Under the settlement, the defendant will pay a civil penalty of $15,000.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

EPA Administrator Says U.S. is Obligated to Reduce Greenhouse Pollutants under the Clean Air Act

On December 9, 2009, in a speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signaled that the EPA intends to use its recent endangerment findings to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In her speech, Administrator Jackson stated that "I’m proud to say that – hours before I stepped on the plane to come here, I announced EPA’s finalized endangerment finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to our health and welfare."  On December 7, 2009, the Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

"Endangerment Finding: The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)--in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

"Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator finds that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare."

Although the endangerment findings do not, by themselves, regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Administrator Jackson said in her speech in Copenhagen that "[b]y taking action and finalizing the endangerment finding on greenhouse gas pollution, we have been authorized and obligated to take reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants under the Clean Air Act."

The first step in those efforts, according to Administrator Jackson, will be to attempt to work with Congress to pass "clean energy reform":

"And when we return home, we will work closely with our Congress to pass comprehensive clean energy reform through the U.S. Congress – reform that will promote clean energy investments and lower U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent below current levels by 2050.  A strong program of reforms and incentives can help the market get to work – making clean energy the profitable kind of energy. Once legislation is passed, we’re betting on our entrepreneurs, innovators, and workers to accelerate the pace of clean energy development in the US and around the globe."

However, Administrator Jackson also seems to be signaling that, if the Congressional efforts fail, EPA is authorized and obligated to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on its own.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

U.S. EPA Takes West Chicago Site Off National Priorities List

Today, U.S. EPA published in the Federal Register a direct final Notice of Deletion of the Kerr-McGee Reed-Keppler Park Superfund Site, located in West Chicago, Illinois, from the National Priorities List ("NPL").

The NPL is a statutorily-mandated list of "national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States."  EPA decided to remove the West Chicago site from the NPL after determining that all appropriate response actions have been completed.

In the early 1900's, the site was mined as a quarry to provide rock and embankment material for construction of the Chicago, Wheaton and Western Railway (now the Illinois Prairie Path embankment owned by Commonwealth Edison).  Later, the old quarry area was used for solid waste (household and commercial garbage) disposal from as early as 1939 until 1973.  Among the solid wastes found at the site were thorium mill tailings and other process wastes generated at the West Chicago Rare Earths Facility, which also operated in West Chicago from 1934 until 1973.

Today's Notice of Deletion is the culmination of a 10-year soil remediation and groundwater monitoring process by EPA.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Illinois EPA Releases Annual Air Quality Report For Calendar Year 2008

Today, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued its Air Quality Report for calendar year 2008.  The report reinforces the good news that this blog reported last month (see here and here) that the air quality in Illinois has gotten better.

The IEPA reports:

"In terms of the Air Quality Index (AQI) air quality during 2008 was either good or moderate 96 percent of the time throughout Illinois.  There were no days when air quality in some part of Illinois was considered Unhealthy (category Red).  This compares with one Unhealthy day in 2007.  There were 14 days (10 for PM2.5 and 4 for the new 8-hour ozone standard) when air quality in some part of Illinois was considered Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (category Orange).  This compares with 24 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days reported in 2007. However, based on the new ozone and PM2.5 AQI adjustments implemented in 2008 there would have been 45 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days in 2007.  Air quality trends for the criteria pollutants are continuing to show downward trends or stable trends well below the level of the standards.  Percentage changes over the ten year period 1999 – 2008 are as follows: Particulate Matter (PM10) 14 percent decrease, Particulate Matter (PM2.5) 20 percent decrease, Sulfur Dioxide 15 percent decrease, Nitrogen Dioxide 13 percent decrease, Carbon Monoxide 47 percent decrease, Lead 18 percent decrease, and Ozone 12 percent decrease."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Evanston Ordinance Requires "Green Buildings"

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the City of Evanston passed a new "green" ordinance, which requires all new commercial, multifamily and municipal construction projects over 10,000 square feet to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) Silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.  The ordinance does not require LEED certification for renovations and rehabilitations on existing buildings, and it exempts building projects that already have been approved by the city.

LEED is an "internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across" such metrics as water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

The ordinance is part of the city's effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  The city signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, which pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 7% from the 1990 levels by 2012.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

U.S. EPA Sets Air Pollution Standards for Paint Manufacturing Facilities

The U.S. EPA recently published in the Federal Register a final rule entitled "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Area Source Standards for Paints and Allied Products Manufacturing."  The rule establishes management practices for volatile hazardous air pollutants and equipment standards for particulate hazardous air emissions.

The rule applies to owners and operators of facilities that perform paint and allied products manufacturing that are area sources of hazardous air pollutant emissions and processes, uses, or generates materials containing benzene, methylene chloride, and compounds of cadmium, chromium, lead, and nickel, in amounts greater than or equal to 0.1 percent by weight.  Paints and allied products manufacturing operations "include the production of paints, inks, adhesives, stains, varnishes, shellacs, putties, sealers, caulks, and other coatings from raw materials, the intended use of which is to leave a dried film of solid material on a substrate."

All existing area source facilities subject to this rule are required to comply no later than December 3, 2012.  New sources are required to comply by December 3, 2009 or upon startup of the facility, whichever is later.

Among other things, the rule requires "owners or operators of all existing and new affected facilities to operate a particulate control device during the addition of pigments and other solids that contain compounds of cadmium, chromium, nickel, or lead, and during the grinding and milling of pigments and solids that contain compounds of cadmium, chromium, nickel, or lead."  The rule also requires "new and existing affected sources to equip process and storage vessels that store or process materials containing benzene or methylene chloride with covers or lids."

The rule also sets initial compliance, continuous compliance, notification, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Friday, December 4, 2009

IEPA Notifies Crystal Lake of Groundwater Contamination

Today, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reported that it notified the Crystal Lake public drinking water supply that "there has been a confirmed detection of groundwater contamination that poses a threat of exposure to the public above the Class I groundwater quality standards."

Specifically, IEPA stated that "Trichloroethylene (TCE) has been detected and confirmed in Crystal Lake’s raw (source) and finished (distributed) drinking water at 2.9 parts per billion (ppb). This level does not yet exceed the Class I groundwater quality standard for TCE of 5.0 ppb that both federal and State law allows in drinking water. However, the Right to Know provision of the Environmental Protection Act requires that the public be notified even before this Class I groundwater quality standard is exceeded in their drinking water.

"The Environmental Protection Act requires the water supply, and any secondary users, to provide notification to its customers of this contamination by mail, email, post card, text message or telephone, within five business days of official receipt of the Illinois EPA’s notice. The public drinking water supply must provide the Illinois EPA with written proof of the notifications within seven calendar days after they are sent."
 
Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Asian Carp Found Near Great Lakes During Massive Fish Kill Operation

According to an article from the Associated Press, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service discovered a "22-inch immature specimen" of Asian Carp "among tens of thousands of dead fish identified in a fish kill operation in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, about 40 miles from Lake Michigan." 

The fish kill operation took place while an electric barrier, which was erected to prevent Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes, was down for maintenance.  More than 2,000 gallons of a poison called rotenone was dumped into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  This resulted in "ten of thousands of other species of fish, from gizzard shad to drum" to float to the surface of the waterway.  The kill operation "began Wednesday and was expected to last until Sunday."  At the end of the operation, an expected 200,000 pounds of dead fish will be removed and sent to a landfill.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

U.S. EPA Sets Air Emission Standards for Asphalt Processors and Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers

Today, the U.S. EPA published in the Federal Register a final rule entitled "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Area Sources: Asphalt Processing and Asphalt Roofing Manufacturing."  This rule establishes national air emission standards and other requirements for new and existing asphalt processing facilities and asphalt roofing manufacturing facilities.

In general, the rule limits the amount of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons ("PAH") that can be emitted during asphalt processing operations and asphalt roofing manufacturing operations.  Owners and operators of existing facilities are required to conduct an initial compliance assessment, to demonstrate initial compliance with the new limits, by May 31, 2011.  Owners and operators of new facilities are required to conduct the initial compliance assessment by June 1, 2010 or within 180 days after startup, whichever is later.  Owners and operators must also demonstrate continuous compliance based upon a 3-hour averaging period.

The rule also imposes notification, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.  For example, each facility must submit an initial notification to U.S. EPA within 120 days of December 2, 2009 and a notification of compliance status within 60 days after completion of the compliance assessment.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

U.S. EPA Publishes Final Rule to Regulate Stormwater Discharges from Construction Sites

Today, U.S. EPA published in the Federal Register a final rule entitled "Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Construction and Development Point Source Category."  The rule contains first-time national performance standards and monitoring requirements for stormwater discharges associated with the construction industry.

Construction activities, including excavating and grading, can lead to disturbed soil that, if not managed properly, can be easily washed off-site during rain events.  According to EPA, "[i]mproper control of stormwater discharges associated with construction activity is a contributor of sediment, turbidity, nutrients and other pollutants to surface waters in the United States. . . . The sediment, turbidity, and other pollutants entrained in stormwater discharges associated with construction activity contribute to aquatic ecosystem
degradation, increased drinking water treatment costs, and impairment of the recreational use and aesthetic value of impacted waters. Sediment can also accumulate in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging or other mitigation in order to prevent reduced water storage or navigation capacity."

Construction companies are generally required to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act and to implement control measures to manage discharges associated with construction activity. 

Under the rule published today, all construction sites will be required by February 1, 2010 to meet certain standards, including: erosion and sediment controls, soil stabilization, dewatering, pollution prevention measures, and surface outlets.  Also, four categories of discharges are entirely prohibited.

The rule also sets a daily maximum value of 280 NTU for turbidity and requires companies to monitor and take samples of stormwater discharges to ensure that turbidity does not exceed the daily maximum value. 

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IEPA Investigates Former Toastmaster Site in Algonquin

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune and an Illinois EPA fact sheet, IEPA is investigating soil and groundwater contamination east of the former Toastmaster property at 401 Washington St. in Algonquin, bordered by the Prairie Trail bike path to the west and south, Towne Park to the north, and Route 31 to the east.  The property was historically used for the production of such items as irons, shell casings during wartime, and appliances.

The site had initially been investigated as part of due diligence by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which was looking to purchase the property in preparation for the Western Bypass, a road construction project to alleviate congestion at the intersection of Routes 31 and 62 in Algonquin. 

According to IEPA, soil and groundwater testing at the site revealed the presence of elevated levels of volatile organic compounds ("VOCs"), heavy metals, and other organic compounds.  Further investigation revealed that contamination had migrated offsite to the east of the Toastmaster site. 

At this time, IEPA believes that "no health risk has been identified."  However, the agency will continue its investigation in December 2009 and early 2010.  "The purpose of the continued study is to determine whether a potential for the migration of vapors from groundwater through soil and into basements or crawl spaces exists."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

DNA Testing Shows Asian Carp Within 7 miles of Lake Michigan

There are new fears that Asian carp are getting closer to the Great Lakes.  According to two recent articles in the Chicago Tribune, DNA testing found evidence of the Asian carp within 7 miles of Lake Michigan after apparently leaping an electrical barrier erected to prevent the carp from reaching the Great Lakes. 

Scientists found Asian carp DNA above an electric fish-barrier in the Sanitary and Ship Canal.  Asian carp are now are only one lock and dam away from the Great Lakes.  The articles described the DNA testing:

"The tests sift carp DNA out of suspended particles floating in river currents, and they indicate for the first time that bighead and silver carp are just below the O'Brien lock on the Calumet River, in the Des Plaines River above the Lockport lock and at the confluence of the Calumet Sag Channel and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. All three locations are above the multimillion-dollar electrified carp barrier built to keep invasive species from moving from the Illinois River to the Great Lakes, and vice versa."

"'There is no reason to think that there aren't carp present when the DNA is detected,' said David Lodge, a researcher with the University of Notre Dame who is conducting the genetic analysis. 'It's hard to come to any other conclusion other than that there are carp somewhere in the region.'"

Please click here and here to access the articles in the Tribune.  Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

EPA Declares That Chicagoland Met Another Air Quality Standard

Today, U.S. EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register determining that the "Chicago-Gary-Lake County, Illinois-Indiana" areas have met the 1997 fine particle (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

As a result of this determination, "the requirements for these areas to submit an attainment demonstration and
associated reasonably available control measures (RACM), a reasonable further progress plan (RFP), contingency measures, and other State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions related to attainment of the standard are suspended for so long as the areas continue to attain the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS."

Today's final rule follows up on U.S. EPA's November 13, 2009 final rule declaring that Chicagoland met the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

University of Illinois Receives Grant From EPA to Study Carbon Sequestration

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. EPA awarded the University of Illinois approximately $900,000 in grant funds to study the possible environmental impact of the underground sequestration of carbon dioxide.

The theory of carbon sequestration is that carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) can be captured at stationary sources, such as power plants, and injected underground for long-term storage.  With this grant from U.S. EPA, the University of Illinois plans to study whether injecting carbon dioxide could cause changes in pressure to groundwater aquifers.  Officials want to study whether carbon dioxide sequestration could cause saltwater to migrate from deeper groundwater and contaminate fresh water near the surface.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Clean-Up To Begin at Manufactured-Gas Plant in Quincy

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, AmerenCIPS--a central Illinois utility company--will launch a $20 million cleanup of underground contaminants at a defunct gas-manufacturing plant in Quincy.

Manufactured-gas plants were industrial facilities that produced gas from coal, oil and other feedstocks.  The gas was stored, and then piped to the surrounding area, where it was used for lighting, cooking, and heating homes and businesses.  Today, natural gas is used instead of manufactured gas.

People are still concerned about former manufactured-gas plants because of contamination issues.  For example, the Quincy plant's operations ended in 1943.  However, underground contaminants remain, including "coal tar, which contains carcinogens, and could pose a health risk if disturbed."  Workers "will first take precautionary steps, such as putting up a tent with carbon filters to contain dust and vapors.  After that, they will install a new sewer system, remove the contaminants and replace the soil."  The clean-up is expected to take up to two years.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Friday, November 20, 2009

IEPA Notifies Four Communities of Groundwater Contamination

Today, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reported that it notified the Fox River Grove public drinking water supply, the Hennepin Public Water District, the Rockford public water supply, and the Six Oaks Mobile Home Park (located south of Pecatonica on Route 20) public drinking water supply that there were confirmed detections of groundwater contamination that pose threats of exposure to the public above the Class I groundwater quality standards.

Specifically, IEPA stated that "trichloroethylene (TCE) has been detected and confirmed" in Fox River Grove, Rockford, and Six Oaks Mobile Home Park's "raw (source) and finished (distributed) drinking water, and the TCE exceeds 2.5 parts per billion (ppb).  This level does not yet exceed the Class I groundwater quality standard for TCE of 5.0 ppb that both federal and State law allows in drinking water.  However, the Right to Know provision of the Environmental Protection Act requires that the public be notified even before this Class I groundwater quality standard is exceeded in their drinking water."

IEPA also stated that "tetrachloroethylene (PCE) has been detected and confirmed" in Hennepin's "raw (source) and finished (distributed) drinking water, and the PCE exceeds 2.5 parts per billion (ppb).  This level does not yet exceed the Class I groundwater quality standard for PCE of 5.0 ppb that both federal and State law allows in drinking water.  However, the Right to Know provision of the Environmental Protection Act requires that the public be notified even before this Class I groundwater quality standard is exceeded in their drinking water.

"The Environmental Protection Act requires the water supply provide notification to its customers of this contamination by mail, email, post card, text message or telephone, within five business days of official receipt of the Illinois EPA’s notice.  The public drinking water supply must provide the Illinois EPA with written proof of the notifications within seven calendar days after they are sent."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ComEd Beginning to Install Smart Meters

According to ComEd's website and a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, ComEd is beginning to install smart meters this month on homes and businesses in several suburbs, including Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park and River Forest.

This follows the news that Naperville received a grant to install smart meters in that city.  ComEd sees the smart meters as a building block in the overall plan for a "smart grid":

"Imagine an electrical distribution system so smart that it 'heals' itself and never requires customers to call ComEd to report an outage; one that sends a message to your cell phone alerting you of the restoration of power while you are out at dinner; one that employs the most advanced technology to dramatically reduce the number of outages and a communication-and information-rich system that empowers customers with real-time data that lets them make the smartest, most cost-effective energy decisions.

"Long-term, AMI meters will automatically notify ComEd of power outages and restorations, without requiring customers to call us. They can give customers real-time data about their energy use so they can make smart usage decisions. Customer Service Representatives also can more easily resolve bill questions, meter problems and other concerns because they are able to access customers’ meters in real-time. That means customers no longer have to wait for customer service representatives to dispatch a technician to assess a problem.

"These advanced meters will transform the industry and open a world of choice to customers, enabling information-based decisions about energy usage to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions."

ComEd's website also includes a nice video on the new smart meters.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Environmental Register for October 2009

The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued its Environmental Register publication for October 2009.
The Environmental Register features a letter from Chairman Girard, a rulemaking update, a summary of actions of the Board, a summary of new cases, and the Board's calendar.

I will be blogging about some of the news contained in this publication. Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, November 16, 2009

U.S. EPA to Use Poison to Fight Asian Carp

According to a story by the Associated Press, U.S. EPA will use a poison called rotenone in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to repel Asian carp.  The poison will be used when an electric barrier is taken down for maintenance.

U.S. EPA will "use non-lethal electric shock to catch and move as many sport fish as possible before the rotenone is released."  An antidote will be applied to neutralize the rotenone and limit the spread of the poison.

The threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes is severe, according to U.S. EPA:

"Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food.  They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet.  They are well-suited to the climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Asian habitats.

Researchers expect that Asian carp would disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes.  Due to their large size, ravenous appetites, and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem.  Eventually, they could become a dominant species in the Great Lakes."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paving Company Agrees to $15,200 Penalty for Stormwater Violations

On November 5, 2009, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted a settlement of the Attorney General's enforcement action for environmental violations at a temporary concrete batch plant located at the intersection of I-74 and I-474 west of Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois.

In People v. Illinois Valley Paving Co., PCB 09-40, the Attorney General alleged the following violations: (1) discharging contaminant-laden stormwater runoff into Kickapoo Creek via an unnamed tributary; (2) creating a water pollution hazard by depositing concrete wastes and residues upon the land without the protection of adequate erosion controls; and (3) violating the terms of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

In settlement documents, the company agreed to a civil penalty of $15,200.  Also, the company must "cease and desist from future violations of the Environmental Protection Act and Board regulations that were the subject of the complaint."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

U.S. EPA Streamlines Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule

On November 13, 2009, U.S. EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register that streamlines the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure ("SPCC") rule.  The purpose of the SPCC rule is to help prevent discharges of oil from storage containers into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

A facility is subject to the SPCC rule if it meets three criteria: "(1) it must be non-transportation-related; (2) it must have an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons; and (3) there must be a reasonable expectation of a discharge into or upon navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines."

The new rule becomes effective on January 14, 2010, and changes the original SPCC rule in many ways, including:

• Exemption for hot-mix asphalt;

• Exemption for pesticide application equipment and related mix containers that may currently be subject to the SPCC rule when crop oil or adjuvant oil is added to pesticide formulations;

• Exemption for residential heating oil containers;

• Amendment of the definition of ‘‘facility’’ to clarify that contiguous or non-contiguous buildings, properties,
parcels, leases, structures, installations, pipes, or pipelines may be considered separate facilities;

• Amendment of the facility diagram requirement to clarify how containers, fixed and mobile, are identified on the facility diagram;

• Amendment of the general secondary containment requirements to clarify the scope of secondary containment so that an owner or operator need only take into consideration the typical failure mode, and most likely quantity of oil that would be discharged, consistent with current Agency guidance;

• Amendment of the facility security requirements to allow an owner or operator of a facility to tailor his security measures to the facility’s specific characteristics and location;

• Amendment to allow an owner or operator to consult and rely on industry standards to determine the appropriate qualifications for personnel performing tests and inspections, as well as the type and frequency of integrity testing required for a particular container size and configuration;

• Clarification of the definition of ‘‘permanently closed’’ as it applies to oil production facilities and containers
present at an oil production facility.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Friday, November 13, 2009

U.S. EPA Declares That Chicagoland No Longer Violates Air Pollution Standard

Today, U.S. EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register declaring that the "Chicago-Gary-Lake County, IL-IN" area no longer violates the 24-hour fine particle (PM 2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Generally, the Clean Air Act requires that states with areas in violation of the PM 2.5 standard must undertake certain planning and pollution control activities within those areas to come into compliance as quickly as reasonably possible.  Also, health studies have shown an association between exposure to PM 2.5 and premature death from heart and lung disease. 

According to the EPA, "fine particles are extremely small airborne particles.  Airborne particles with a nominal aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less (a micrometer is one-millionth of a meter; 2.5 micrometers is less than about one-thirtieth the thickness of a human hair) are considered to be 'fine particles' and are also known as PM2.5.  Due to their small size, they can penetrate deeply into the lungs of people who inhale them, where they can accumulate, react, or be absorbed into the body."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IPCB Penalizes Owners and Operators of Landfill for Environmental Violations

On November 5, 2009, the Illinois Pollution Control Board issued an opinion penalizing the owners and operators of a landfill located near Sumner, Lawrence County, Illinois. 

In People v. Simmons, PCB No. 06-159, the Board assessed civil penalties of $10,000 against the Disposal Centre, Inc., and $1,000 against Gary Simmons individually.  The Board also ordered the Disposal Centre to pay an additional $32,164, which is the time-use value of $118,421.90 to recoup the economic benefit earned through non-compliance.  The Board also ordered Simmons to pay an additional $3,573, which is the time-use value of $118,421.90 to recoup the economic benefit earned through non-compliance. Finally, the Board assessed attorney fees of $1,540 against both respondents, for which they are jointly and severally liable.

According to the Board's opinion, the "proven violations involve requirements for post closure care, site security and maintenance, and groundwater and gas monitoring violations. Respondents also violated various permit conditions imposing recordkeeping, reporting, and operational requirements. Finally, the respondents also committed air pollution through failure to correctly manage landfill case."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Visit to Wolf Road Nature Preserve

This past weekend, my family got outside to enjoy the warmer weather in the Chicagoland area.  We took a trip to the Wolf Road Nature Preserve in Westchester.  Apparently, this area was set to become a housing development in the 1920s, until the Great Depression stopped those plans.  Today it is a nice place to take a short walk and to enjoy nature.





Sunday, November 8, 2009

Permit Granted for Coal to Synthetic Natural Gas Facility

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Power Holdings of Illinois LLC received an air pollution permit from Illinois EPA to construct a facility that would convert coal into synthetic natural gas.  The facility would be located in southern Illinois, near Waltonville.  Power Holdings describes the conversion process as follows:

"A gasifer is a closed vessel where coal slurry (coal turned to powder and mixed with water) is combined with nearly pure oxygen.  The gasifier operates at a very high pressure (1000 psi) and high temperature ( 2500 degrees F).  Almost all the coal is turned into a gas with a small percentage leaving the bottom of the gasifier in the form of a glass like material that can be used in road bed construction and concrete production.  The gas that leaves the gasifiers is cleaned of impurities (particulates, sulfur and mercury) and converted into synthetic natural gas, which is the same as the natural gas used in homes.  As part of the gas clean‐up processes, high pressure steam is produced which is used to generate sufficient electric power to operate the entire Facility."


Power Holdings expects that construction could begin next summer or fall and take about three years.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

$33,000 Penalty to Settle Air Pollution Enforcement Action Relating to Asbestos

On October 28, 2009, the Illinois Attorney General and the owner of a building in Collinsville, Illinois entered into a settlement to resolve an air pollution enforcement action filed with the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

In People v. Chippewa Loft, LLC, No. 07-68, the Illinois Attorney General alleged that the owner removed approximately 3,700 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tile during a renovation of the building.  The Attorney General also alleged that the owner chipped and crushed the floor tile and disposed of it in two open dumpsters in the rear of the facility.  An inspector from the Illinois EPA observed a substantial amount of debris within, and on the ground adjacent to, the two dumpsters.

The Attorney General alleged that the owner violated the National Emissions Standards for Asbestos and State air pollution laws, because the owner did not provide written notification to the Illinois EPA prior to commencement of the renovation activities.  Also, the owner failed to appropriately store and dispose of the asbestos-containing floor tile.  Furthermore, the owner failed to pay a notification fee required by state statute.

In the settlement, the owner admitted the violations alleged by the Attorney General and agreed to pay a $33,000 penalty.  The owner also agreed to pay $12,000 to help fund an upgrade of the water disinfection system for the City of Collinsville.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Money Needed to Maintain Asian Carp Barrier

According to a story heard on WBBM radio, the $9 million electronic barrier installed in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to keep Asian carp from swimming into Lake Michigan needs maintenance.  The problem, however, is that the State of Illinois does not have the $750,000 needed to perform the maintenance.

University of Wisconsin biologist Phil Moy "says the state of Illinois doesn't have the money.  He says it should really come from Washington since this is a matter that affects all the states around the Great Lakes. 'It is a little bit frustrating to work only at the pace of the federal government rather than the pace that these fish might want.'"

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Governor Quinn Appoints New Member of Illinois Pollution Control Board

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced the appointment of Carrie Zalewski as the newest member of the Illinois Pollution Control Board. 

"The 30-year-old environmental compliance attorney for the state Transportation Department is married to Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago."  Mrs. Zalewski will start November 16th and will replace Dr. Shundar Lin, whose term is expiring.  According to the website of the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, Mrs. Zalewski was admitted to practice as a lawyer in Illinois in 2004.

The Pollution Control Board is an independent state agency that sets environmental regulations and decides certain environmental cases, including enforcement cases.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Naperville Awarded $11 Million for Digital Electricity Meters

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the City of Naperville has been awarded $11 million of federal stimulus money for digital electricity meters.  The award is subject to the city coming up with matching funds.

"Digital electricity meters, called smart meters, permit consumers to monitor their energy use in near-real time, allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint and power bills by setting certain household appliances to run during low-demand hours, when electricity is cheaper.  They are one component of smart grid technology that would also make it easier to incorporate renewable energy into the overall electricity production process and avoid massive blackouts by making the power grid more transparent."

It is expected that the city will save about $80 million through lower power rates and reduce 180,000 tons of carbon emissions over the next 15 years.
 
According to the city's website, Naperville’s smart grid project includes:

• Complete automation of the city’s electric grid, which will provide automatic, computerized meter readings in real-time. This will streamline customer billing and increasing billing accuracy.

• The addition of more than 57,000 smart meters will allow residents and businesses to analyze and adjust their energy usage patterns, thus conserving energy and controlling consumption and costs.

• Based on the availability of real-time feedback, the Department of Public Utilities will increase utility reliability and support two-way communication flow between the customer and the utility.

• Through a better understanding of utility demand and usage, pricing can be lowered accordingly.

• The smart grid will also serve as the initial infrastructure to support electric car usage for the average household.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

U.S. EPA's Final Rule on Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases

On October 30th, U.S. EPA published a final rule requiring that certain facilities report their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Under the rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of greenhouse emissions are required to submit annual reports to U.S. EPA.  It is estimated that about 10,000 facilities are covered by the rule.  The gases covered by the rule are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride and hydrofluorinated ethers.  Facilities subject to this rule must begin collecting data on January 1, 2010.  The first annual report is due on March 31, 2011, for greenhouse gases emitted or products supplied during 2010.

U.S. EPA has placed additional information and training materials concerning this rule on its website (click here).

Although this rule does not, by itself, control or regulate greenhouse gases, it is clear that U.S. EPA will use this information to further regulate greenhouse gases in the future.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Friday, October 30, 2009

U.S. EPA Releases Air Monitoring Data for Chicago School

U.S. EPA Region 5 recently released the first set of air monitoring data for St. Josaphat School, which is a Catholic elementary school located at 2245 N. Southport in Chicago. 

The data was gathered as part of the Schools Air Toxics Monitoring Initiative that is designed to show whether long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in the outdoor air poses health concerns for children and staff at 63 schools, as well as for residents in the surrounding community.  EPA selected St. Josaphat School because it is located near at least one large industry that is a source for air toxics emissions.

These first results showed that "levels of the key hazardous air pollutants at St. Josaphat are below levels of short-term concern."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Deal Exempts Steamships on Great Lakes From Air Pollution Requirements

According to this story from the Associated Press, a deal struck in Congress will "effectively exempt 13 ships that haul iron ore, coal and other freight on the Great Lakes from a proposed federal rule meant to reduce air pollution." 

The rule was designed "to reduce emissions of airborne contaminants blamed for smog, acid rain, respiratory ailments and possibly cancer. Large ships are leading producers of nitrogen and sulfur oxides and tiny contaminated particles that foul the air near ports and coastlines and hundreds of miles inland."  According to the Lake Carriers' Association, without the exemption, the rule would ground 13 steamships while forcing 13 others to use fuel 70% more expensive than currently in use.

According to this article from the Associated Press today, the exemption was included in a stopgap spending measure passed by Congress to avoid shutting down most federal agencies.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

U.S. EPA's New Risk Analysis for Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rule

Yesterday, U.S. EPA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Data Availability inviting comments on a revised risk analysis for proposed revisions to regulations governing solvent-contaminated wipes.

A wide variety of industries use wipes (including rags, shop towels, disposable wipes and paper towels) for cleaning and degreasing.  Those wipes are handled in various ways.  For example, wipes may be used once or several times before they are thrown away, while other wipes are used, laundered, and reused multiple times.  During cleaning and degreasing operations, these wipes may become contaminated with solvents, as well as with other materials.  When those wipes are discarded, they can, under certain circumstances, be considered hazardous waste under the federal hazardous waste regulations.

In 2003, U.S. EPA proposed exclusions from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") definition of solid waste for solvent-contaminated wipes sent to a laundry or dry cleaner, and from the definition of hazardous waste for solvent-contaminated wipes sent to a landfill or combustion facility,  provided certain conditions were met.  Industry argued for this proposed change because, they argued, when small amounts of solvent are used on each wipe, minimal risk occurs when they are ultimately disposed.

After U.S. EPA proposed the exclusions, it decided to conduct a "more robust risk analysis" to determine the risk to the public and the environment by these wipes.  U.S. EPA issued yesterday's Notice of Data Availability to request comments on the new risk analysis and to inform the public of potential changes to the solvent-contaminated wipe rule.

The first change would allow the disposal of solvents not showing a risk in any municipal landfill or nonhazardous waste landfill whether lined or unlined.  The solvents that indicated a potential risk if disposed of in an unlined landfill could only be disposed in a lined municipal landfill or lined non-hazardous waste landfill.

The second change would establish conditions that allow all solvent-contaminated wipes, no matter which solvent they contain, except perhaps tetrachloroethylene, to be sent to a municipal or industrial landfill unit subject to, or otherwise meeting, certain other requirements.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

US EPA Proposes Rule Limiting Reach of Greenhouse Gas Regulations

Today, U.S. EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (the "Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule") that addresses which companies will be affected by the regulation of greenhouse gases in the near future.

In March 2010, U.S. EPA expects to finalize and promulgate its light-duty motor vehicle rule, which will control greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources.  But the light-duty motor vehicle rule will have a very significant impact--it will trigger the application of Clean Air Act permitting requirements for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.  This is a significant trigger because millions of small sources of pollution could have been subject to stringent new permitting requirements.  To prevent the administrative and regulatory nightmare that would occur if all of these small sources were subject to new requirements, U.S. EPA today proposed a tailoring rule that would limit and phase-in the trigger.

The new proposed rule is complex and there is insufficient room in this blog to fully analyze the implications.  But, in a nutshell, any facility that emits greenhouse gases above the proposed threshold of 25,000 tons per year on a "carbon dioxide equivalent" (tpy CO2e) will be required to obtain new permits for any new construction or major modification.  This first phase would last six years.  Within five years of the publishing of the final version of the tailoring rule, EPA would conduct a study of the administration of the permitting issues.  Then, U.S. EPA would conduct another rulemaking, to be completed by the end of the sixth year, that would promulgate, as the second phase, revised thresholds for the permitting requirements.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Green" Gas Station in Deerfield

Recently, the Chicago Tribune reported on a "green" gas station.  According to the article, the station earned green certifications from the Green Business League and the village of Deerfield.

The station features energy-saving motion sensors on the light switches and tap faucets, as well as a 52-gallon barrel near the gas pumps to collect rainwater runoff from the overhead canopy.  It also uses energy-efficient light bulbs, has foliage and evergreens, and uses nontoxic cleaning products.  A thermostat that regulates after-hours temperatures has been installed.

Congratulations to the owner of this station for all of his efforts.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Healthy" House in Long Grove

There has been a lot of talk in the news about "green" construction.  But most of the discussions deal with commercial buildings.
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune reported on a house that was built by Dior Builders according to the Health House Builder Program sponsored by the American Lung Association.  A "healthy" home has the following components: foundation waterproofing and moisture control; advanced framing techniques; air sealing and advanced insulation techniques; energy efficient, high performance windows; energy efficient and sealed combustion appliances; high efficiency air filtration; whole house ventilation; humidity control; and carefully selected and reviewed interior finishes.

According to the brochure, this 7,500 square-foot luxury home in Long Grove "showcases sustainable technology with a focus on air quality, locally sourced materials, water conservation and energy efficient technology. This home is ENERGYSTAR® certified."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

International Day of Climate Action

Today is the International Day of Climate Action.  Environmental groups from around the globe are organizing events to gain support for an international climate change treaty.  Their goal is to bring down the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.  This is what some scientists are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.  You can read more about the International Day of Climate Action here.

There are several events going on in Illinois.  For example, Benedictine University's Club 350 will be staging a human “350” that on the turf of the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex football field after the game between Benedictine and Lakeland College.  Other environmentally-friendly activities are being organized at Benedictine around the theme, “Green Halloween,” including a clean-up of Lake St. Benedictine.

Please click here for a list of all of the events happening in Illinois.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U.S. EPA Announces Settlement of Two Enforcement Actions

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 announced the settlement of two enforcement actions.  Region 5 includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

First, EPA reached an agreement with an Elk Grove testing and metal coating business for alleged violations of federal hazardous waste rules.  The company will pay a $62,031 penalty.  EPA alleged that the company failed to label a tank and container, keep a container closed, train personnel and keep records, document daily tank inspections, install a leak detection system for its storage tank, have its storage tank assessed for structure integrity and maintain an adequate contingency plan.  Please click here for the news release of the settlement.

Second, EPA reached an agreement with a Zion scrap metal recycling company for alleged violations of federal clean air rules governing safe disposal of chloroflurocarbons ("CFCs") and hydrochloroflurocarbons ("HCFCs") from small applicances.  EPA alleged that the company accepted small appliances without recovering refrigerants and did not obtain proper verification statements showing that refrigerant was properly recovered.  Instead of paying a penalty, the company agreed to participate in a compliance program, including providing notice to customers that the company will not accept small appliances unless the suppliers can certify that the refrigerants were properly removed.  Please click here for the news release of the settlement, and click here for the Administrative Consent Order.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Building Owners To Pay $70,000 To Settle Air Pollution Enforcement Action

According to a recent order of the Illinois Pollution Control Board, the owners of a building in Springfield, Illinois have settled an enforcement action for $70,000. 

The Attorney General had alleged that the owners violated state and federal clean air laws by: (1) causing or tending to cause air pollution; (2) failing to thoroughly inspect the building for the presence and location of asbestos-containing material (ACM) prior to commencing asbestos removal and disposal activities; (3) failing to notify the Illinois EPA of scheduled asbestos removal activities at the building at least 10 working days prior to commencing such activities; (4) failing to properly remove all regulated ACM (RACM) from the building before commencing planned renovation activities, which broke up, dislodged, and similarly disturbed the RACM; (5) failing to adequately wet all RACM and prevent damage or disturbance to the RACM during cutting or disjoining operations at the building; (6) failing to adequately wet and maintain wet all RACM and regulated asbestos-containing waste material at the building until collected and contained in preparation for disposal at a site permitted to accept such waste; (7) failing to have at least one representative at the building trained in the provisions of the NESHAP for asbestos and the means of complying with them; (8) failing to adequately wet and keep wet, containerize, and label all asbestos-containing waste material at the building, thereby causing or allowing the discharge of visible emissions to the outside air; and (9) failing to transport to a waste disposal site, or Agency-approved site that converts RACM and asbestos-containing waste material into nonasbestos material, and deposit as soon as practical all asbestos-containing waste material generated during asbestos removal activities at the building.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

New Law Requires Public Notice of Groundwater and Soil Gas Contamination

New Public Act 096-0603 imposes new requirements for notice to the public of groundwater and soil gas contamination.

First, the owner or operator of a community water system must notify all residents and owners of premises connected to the affected community water system when Illinois EPA either (1) refers a matter for enforcement or (2) issues an order sealing wells.  (New 415 ILCS 5/18.1.)

Second, Illinois EPA must notify residents and owners of premises connected to affected community water systems (or connected to water systems receiving water from the affected community water system) when the agency determines that groundwater contamination poses a threat of exposure to the public above Class I groundwater quality standards.  (New 415 ILCS 5/25d-3(a)(2)(B)(ii).)

Third, Illinois EPA must notify owners of contaminated property that soil gas contamination above Tier 1 remediation objectives extends beyond the boundary of the site where the release occurred.  (New language added to 415 ILCS 5/25d-3(a)(1).)  Previously, Illinois EPA was only required to provide notice only for soil contamation.  Now, soil gas contamination is included in the notice. 

So what does this all mean?  The public will have more knowledge than ever about contamination in their water supply and in their soils.  And that is probably a good thing, because citizens will be able to avoid things that can potentially make them sick.  Will we see more litigation based on these notice requirements?  It remains to be seen.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

$242 Million for Energy Efficiency for Illinois Homes

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that $242 million will be available to Illinois homeowners through the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization efforts "include insulating attics or walls, repairing windows and doors, weather-stripping and caulking."

The money for this program came from the federal stimulus package. As a result, eligibility for the program is determined by family size and household income in accordance with federal guidelines. The program's goal "is to serve those households that have the lowest incomes, together with the highest energy burdens. Income, eligible households with high heating bills, in relation to income, and those containing elderly members (60 and over) with a disability or young children (5 years of age or below) will be given priority and weatherization services first."

To apply for the program, you should contact the appropriate agency provider in your area. Please click here for a list of agency providers.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Environmental Register for September 2009

The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued its Environmental Register publication for September 2009. The Environmental Register features a letter from Chairman Girard, an appellate court update, a rulemaking update, a summary of actions of the Board, a summary of new cases, and the Board's calendar. A link to the Environmental Register can be found here.

I will be blogging about some of the news contained in this publication. Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.