Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cara Smith
877-844-5461 (TTY)
July 28, 2006



Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday filed suit against the owner of the site of a former factory in Crystal Lake where tests have revealed soil and groundwater contamination allegedly caused by the use of the degreasing solvent trichloroethylene (TCE).

According to Madigan's suit, a water sample collected last May by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) showed elevated concentrations of TCE in a private residential well to the east of the site.

TCE is a known human carcinogen. Exposure to TCE also can cause various ailments including eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and possible death from respiratory or cardiac difficulties.

From approximately 1936 through 2000, the industrial plant on the site conducted plating, metal fabrication, machine stamping and welding operations. TCE was used to degrease machined metal parts. In 2000, the defendant, Corning, Inc., a New York corporation, purchased the five-acre site at 200 E. Crystal Lake Ave., surrounded by residential areas in which some homes are not connected to Crystal Lake's water supply.

According to Madigan's complaint, Corning demolished the plant in December 2000 and placed clean fill and topsoil on the site and graded it to provide drainage. Between 2001 and 2004, Corning conducted tests of on-site soil and groundwater, and of off-site groundwater. The company's results indicated levels of TCE that exceeded Illinois groundwater quality standards. However, according to Madigan's suit, Corning failed to sample any off-site private wells, failed to fully define the extent of the TCE contamination and failed to perform any corrective measures either on or off site.

“Neighbors of industrial plants should not have to worry about the safety of their drinking water,” Madigan said. “It is Corning's responsibility to ensure that the water supply for local residents is free of toxic chemicals.”

The five-count complaint, filed yesterday in McHenry County Circuit Court, seeks an injunction requiring Corning to provide an alternative method of supplying safe drinking water to all affected and potentially affected residents and to conduct an investigation of the impacted area to define the nature and extent of the alleged contamination.

Madigan's suit alleges that Corning created a substantial danger to the environment, public health and welfare, caused or allowed water pollution, created a water pollution hazard and violated groundwater quality standards. The suit seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 for each violation, plus $10,000 for each day of continued violation. In an additional count, Madigan's suit alleges a public nuisance and seeks to require Corning to pay for all costs, including sampling and clean-up costs, associated with the alleged TCE contamination.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Marinelli is handling the case for Madigan's Environmental Bureau.


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