Thursday, April 29, 2010

Illinois to Receive Money from Federal Government for Energy Efficiency and Cleanup Measures

On April 22nd, the Chicago Tribune published two stories concerning cash from the federal government going to environmental improvements within the State of Illinois.

The first story reported that "the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $25 million to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. It'll put the money into a program called the Chicago Region Retrofit Ramp-up Program, which aims to retrofit both commercial and residential buildings.  Plans include setting up a one-stop-shop info center where building owners can arrange and finance the energy efficiency projects."

The second story reported that Illinois communities, including Rock Island, Vermilion County, Rockford, North Chicago, Franklin Park, Lena and Vandalia, are to receive $2.65 million in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean contaminated waste sites in the state.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

$16,000 Settlement of State Enforcement Action Alleging CCDD Violations

On April 15th, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted the parties' settlement in People v. R.A. Cullian & Sons, Inc., No. PCB 09-105, which concerned the defendant's clean construction and demolition debris ("CCDD") fill operation at the Farmdale Pit facility, located at 22493 Farmdale Road, in East Peoria, Tazewell County, Illinois.

The State alleged that the defendant violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act by allowing waste material that does not meet the definition of CCDD to commingle with the facility’s CCDD fill material, failing to inspect incoming loads of clean construction and demolition debris at the site with a photo ionization detector (PID) device, failing to maintain CCDD records for the facility, and disposing of CCDD without a permit.

As part of the terms of the settlement, the defendant admits the alleged violations and agrees to pay a civil penalty of $16,000.

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Asian Carp Case Brought by State of Michigan

The Asian carp case in the U.S. Supreme Court officially ended on April 26th with a two sentence order by the Court: "The motion of Michigan to reopen and for a supplemental decree is denied.  The alternative motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied."

The State of Michigan had filed an action in the 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."  The Supreme Court's latest ruling comes after extensive briefings by the parties and two prior orders denying Michigan's motions for a preliminary injunction, which sought to immediately close the locks.

What will happen next?  It seems unlikely, although possible, that Michigan will file a new action in federal district court to continue litigation.  The most likely solution is a political one--one in which the Obama administration works with the governors of the Great Lakes states to come up with a middle-of-the-road solution.  What is clear is that the locks will not be closed in the immediate future.

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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Developer to Pay $8,000 to Settle Alleged Water Pollution Violations

On April 15th, the Illinois Pollution Control Board accepted the settlement in People v. Andalusia Ventures, LLC, No. PCB 09-75, which concerned the defendant's residential housing development, known as Fancy Creek Crossing, located at 101st Street West and Andalusia Road (Route 92) in Andalusia, Rock County, Illinois.

The State alleged that the defendant violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, beginning in 2006 through at least July 2009, by discharging sediment of other than natural origin into a receiving stream, thereby causing or threatening to cause water pollution, and by failing to submit accurate incidents of noncompliance letters and reports, and failing to have on site storm water pollution prevention plan and rainfall reports.

Under the terms of the settlement, the defendant admits the alleged violations and agrees to pay a civil penalty of $8,000.

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

Chicago's Green Roofs

There was an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune on April 20th concerning the building of green roofs in Chicago.  According to the article, the city "now boasts about 500 green roofs that are either finished or underway, according to Department of Environment spokesman Larry Merritt, and they cover 7 million square feet — roughly double the amount of floor space in the Willis Tower."

According to the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities North America organization, a green roof is "an extension of the existing roof which involves a high quality water proofing and root repellent system, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.  Green roof systems may be modular, with drainage layers, filter cloth, growing media and plants already prepared in movable, interlocking grids, or, each component of the system may be installed separately.  Green roof development involves the creation of 'contained' green space on top of a human-made structure.  This green space could be below, at or above grade, but in all cases the plants are not planted in the 'ground'.  Green roofs can provide a wide range of public and private benefits."

Mayor Daley and his colleagues at the city should be congratulated for their leadership on green roofs.  It all started with a green roof on City Hall.  Between 2005 and 2007, the city also gave out grants to help finance green roof projects.

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Steel Company to Pay $120,000 to Resolve Alleged Hazardous Chemical Reporting Violations

On April 16th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the settlement of a federal enforcement action alleging hazardous chemical reporting violations against Alro Steel Corp., which has a facility in Melrose Park, Illinois.

Federal law requires that state and local authorities be notified of hazardous chemical storage.  In the event of a fire or emergency, responders need to know what they are dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living or working in the area.

The defendant paid $120,000 to resolve the EPA notice that it failed to submit to state and local authorities required chemical inventory forms for a variety of hazardous chemicals.  The hazardous chemicals used in the processing of steel include hydrogen, cutting fluid, acrylic enamels, chemtane, methane, propylene, propane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide gas, oxygen, argon and acetylene.  The defendant also has sulfuric acid and lead in its lead-acid batteries that must be reported.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Environmental Register for March 2010

The Illinois Pollution Control Board has issued its Environmental Register publication for March 2010.

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.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Susan Hedman Chosen to be Regional Administrator for U.S. EPA Region 5

On April 21st, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that President Obama selected Susan Hedman to be Regional Administrator for EPA's Region 5, which encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Tribal Nations.

Regional Administrators "are responsible for managing the Agency's regional activities under the direction of the EPA Administrator.  They promote state and local environmental protection efforts and serve as a liaison to state and local government officials.  Regional Administrators are tasked with ensuring EPA's efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and transparency."

Environmental advocates are sure to cheer this appointment.  Ms. Hedman has been Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's Environmental Counsel and Senior Assistant Attorney General since 2005.  She has also held positions with the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Report: If Locks Are Closed to Stop Asian Carp, Economic Impact Will Be $4.7 Billion Over 20 Years

On April 7th, DePaul University Professor Joseph P. Schwieterman released a report entitled "An Analysis of the Economic Effects of Terminating Operations at the Chicago River Controlling Works and O'Brien Locks on the Chicago Area Waterway System."  This report attempts to quantify the economic impact that would result if Chicago-area locks were closed to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.  According to the report:

"The findings show that spending by consumers and commercial shippers on the barge and boat operations that would be affected by closure of the locks has an annual financial impact of $1.3 billion. This figure is inclusive of multiplier effects related to waterway use but not inclusive of certain employment-related effects, which can only be measured with further study. The economic value lost from permanent closure is estimated to be $582 million the first year, $531 annually over the subsequent seven years, and $155 million annually thereafter. The net present value of these costs, over a 20-year planning horizon at a four percent discount rate, is $4.7 billion.

"For the first year after closures, the lost value consists of added transportation costs ($125 million; inclusive of social costs), losses to recreational boaters ($5 million), consumers of river cruises and tours ($20 million), municipal departments providing public protection ($6 million), property owners ($51 million), and regional agencies needing additional funds for flood-abatement systems ($375 million). A portion of these losses would be shouldered by industries outside the Chicago metropolitan area, particularly certain ports in the Mississippi River basin that serve the barge transportation industry."

This report bolsters the claim of many who believe that closing the locks would have a devastating effect on the Chicago-area economy.  They believe that there are alternative ways to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan without closing the locks.  Some environmentalists, on the other hand, believe that it will be devastating if Asian carp reach Lake Michigan, and that it is worth the potential economic impact.  These contrary opinions are the subject of a case presently before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is supposed to take up the case on the merits this month.

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Illinois Pollution Control Board Finds Open Dumping Violations and Issues $3,000 Penalty

On April 1st, the Illinois Pollution Control Board issued an interim opinion in Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Inc. v. Vanderheiden, No. AC 08-27 and IEPA No. 51-08-AC, which concerned the defendant's property, known as Manito/Vanderheiden and located at 510 N. Park Ave., Manito, Mason County, Illinois. 

The Pollution Control Board found that Mr. Vanderheiden violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act by causing or allowing open dumping of litter and general and/or construction or demolition debris.  The IEPA inspector took 51 photographs showing that the defendant allowed the following materials onsite: cinder block, buckets, automotive parts, wood siding, lawn tools, floor jacks, commercial lights, PVC conduit, weathered lumber, roofing materials, Christmas lights, wooden ladders, trailers, an air conditioner, wheelbarrows, boats, camper, parts washer, scrap metal, ductwork, rusty drum, tanks, tires, drain tile, snowmobiles, shower stall, snow fence, snowplows, scaffolding, fence posts, sawhorse, bicycles, wire, landscape waste and other miscellaneous items.  Some of these items were covered with algae and dust and vegetation. 

Because these were the defendant's first violations, the Pollution Control Board will issue a final order penalizing the defendant in the amount of $3,000.

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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

IEPA Refers Property Owner to Attorney General for Enforcement for Alleged Improper Management of Waste Tires

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has asked the Illinois Attorney General's Office to file an enforcement action against the owner of property located along State Highway 50, near Bourbonnais, Illinois.  IEPA alleges that the property owner improperly and unsafely managed waste tires onsite. 

According to IEPA, an inspection was done "in response to a reported break in an 8-inch petroleum pipeline.  The Illinois EPA inspector observed that the break was likely caused during the excavation of a large volume of soil, which was apparently being dug to bury tires and other wastes.  Buckeye representatives installed a metal clamp around the damaged area of the pipe to stop the release, obtained a vacuum truck to recover released product, and took other precautionary measures to prevent contamination of a nearby creek."

IEPA requests that the Attorney General’s Office seek a court order "direct[ing] Lemna and anyone acting on his behalf to cease all activities on-site, including the continued storage of used or waste tires on-site, moving any of the tires and other wastes on-site and any excavation.  The Illinois EPA feels that an Order is necessary so that site conditions do not worsen to a point where a cost effective remedy becomes excessive.  The Order should also allow the Illinois EPA access to the site to respond to the petroleum release and to remove and properly dispose of all waste, including the used or waste tires.  According to Illinois EPA staff, site conditions create a substantial risk to human health and require immediate action."

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Insurance Coverage Denied for Designer of Thomas & Friends Toys

On April 5th, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in ACE American Insurance Co. v. RC2 Corp., No. 09-3032.  RC2 designs and markets the Thomas & Friends toys, which are manufactured in China.

In 2007, RC2 recalled certain of its wooden railway trains and train set components that had been manufactured in China between 2005 and 2007 because they contained lead.  This recall led to numerous class action lawsuits against RC2, alleging that the recalled toys were negligently manufactured and tested.

ACE American Insurance Co. issued commercial general liability policies to RC2.  The policies excluded coverage of "occurrences" that took place within the United States.  ACE denied coverage for the class action lawsuits against RC2, claiming that the policies excluded the damages in question because the occurrences took place within the United States.  RC2 argued that Illinois law compelled the conclusion that an “occurrence” took place in China, where at least some of the negligent acts that “caused” the harm took place.
Under the terms of the policy, the insurance applied only to “bodily injury” and “property damage” caused by an "occurrence" that took place in the "coverage territory."  The term “occurrence” was defined as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” “Coverage Territory” included anywhere in the world but excluded “the United States of America (including its territories and possessions).”
The Seventh Circuit held that ACE did not have a duty to defend RC2 for the class action lawsuits under the terms of the policies:

"In sum, under Illinois law and unless a particular policy contemplates a different definition, an accident occurs when and where all the factors come together at once to produce the force that inflicts injury and not where some antecedent negligent act takes place.  Thus, under the policies in question here, the accident that constitutes the policy-triggering occurrence takes place at the location of the exposure to lead paint, not at the location where the products were manufactured and painted.  Because the parties agree that all the alleged exposure to the products took place within the United States, these occurrences took place in the excluded coverage area of the ACE international policies."

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

U.S. EPA Settles Enforcement Action Concerning Anhydrous Ammonia Release

On April 2nd, U.S. EPA announced that it settled a federal enforcement action against Handy Fertilizer Inc. in Millstadt, Illinois.  EPA alleged that the defendant failed to provide immediate notification to the National Response Center of a 4,096-pound release of anhydrous ammonia on Sept. 23, 2008 at its plant located at 5959 Floraville Road.  The defendant also failed to update the accident history as required by its Risk Management Plan.  According to EPA, the release was caused by persons stealing the anhydrous ammonia for illegal methamphetamine production.

Under the terms of the settlement, the defendant paid a $5,500 penalty and has installed a $22,855 site security system.

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

City of Ottawa, IL Agrees to Pay $150,000 to Settle Superfund Case

On March 25th, a consent decree was agreed to by the parties in United States vs. City of Ottawa, Civil Action No. 10-1887, which concerned facilities at the Ottawa Radiation Areas Superfund Site in Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois.  The site consists of 16 areas polluted by radioactive materials. 

The pollution came from the Radium Dial Co. (from 1918 to 1936) and Luminous Processes, Inc. (from 1937 to 1978), which made glow-in-the-dark dials for clocks and watches using radium-based paint.  Building demolition material and soil, polluted with radioactive waste, were used as fill material in the Ottawa area.  The federal government sued the City of Ottawa, which owned part of the site and operated a dump on another part of the site, for costs that were incurred and will be incurred for cleaning up the site.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the City of Ottawa will pay $150,000 and also provide approximately $4.35 million in in-kind services, primarily through the provision of clean fill and top soil.

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

Friday, April 2, 2010

City of Naperville Releases Draft Environmental Sustainability Plan

The City of Naperville, Illinois recently released its Draft Environmental Sustainability Plan, the purpose of which is to "establish a long-term vision for environmental sustainability in Naperville, a guide for the city's actions related to environmental leadership and initiatives over the next ten years."

The draft plan focuses on five specific areas: (1) leadership and education, (2) resources and energy, (3) mobility, (4) waste management and recycling, and (5) sustainable development and infrastructure.  The City also released a draft work plan that provides recommended actions for each of these five areas.  The Naperville City Council will consider the recommendations of the Environmental Sustainability Plan during a workshop at 5 p.m. April 13 in Meeting Rooms A, B & C of the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Environmental Appeals Board Affirms $105,590 Penalty for Violations of Safe Drinking Water Act

On March 30th, the Environmental Appeals Board issued its opinion in In re Rocky Well Service, Inc., SDWA Appeal Nos. 08-03 & 08-04, which concerned defendants' operation of six underground injection wells in Clinton, Effingham, Jefferson and Wayne counties in Illinois.  The Appeals Board is the final U.S. EPA decisionmaker on administrative appeals under all major environmental statutes that EPA administers.

In this case, EPA alleged that defendants failed to subject six Class II underground injection wells to mechanical integrity testing and failed to submit annual monitoring reports for the same six wells.  An underground injection well is a device that places fluid deep underground into porous rock formations, such as sandstone or limestone, or into or below the shallow soil layer.  These fluids may be water, wastewater, brine (salt water), or water mixed with chemicals.  Underground injection wells have a range of uses that include waste disposal, enhancing oil production, mining, and preventing salt water intrusion.  EPA regulates underground injection wells to prevent endangerment of drinking water sources.

The Regional Judicial Officer for EPA Region 5 assessed a joint civil penalty of $105,590 against both Rocky Well Service, which held the permit for the wells, and Edward Klockenkemper, who served as the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Agent for, as well as conducting the day-to-day operations of, the corporation.  The Appeals Board affirmed the Officer's order assessing the penalty.  In particular, the Appeals Board held that "the scope of liability under both the [Safe Drinking Water Act] and the approved Illinois [Underground Injection Control] program is not, as Mr. Klockenkemper asserts, limited to permittees.  Indeed . . . the Board finds that the applicable statutory and regulatory provisions unambiguously extend liability beyond permittees to a broad range of individuals, including individuals, such as Mr. Klockenkemper, acting on behalf of a corporation."

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