Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced a lawsuit and two consent orders against the current and former owners of a chemical manufacturing facility in Kankakee, Illinois for violations of air pollution control standards.
Raoul’s lawsuit was filed in Kankakee County Circuit Court against current facility owner Kensing LLC and former owner BASF Corporation. The lawsuit alleges hazardous air pollutants were emitted in excess of regulatory thresholds. The Attorney General’s office also filed two consent orders, which require the companies to pay a total of $178,000 in civil penalties. The court entered the consent orders with both owners to resolve the lawsuit.
“All companies operating in Illinois are responsible for following the environmental laws that keep our communities safe,” Raoul said. “I will continue to partner with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to take action when companies fail meet their obligations to protect public health and the environment.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit was based on a referral by the IEPA.
“The Illinois EPA appreciates the work of the Attorney General’s Office to obtain consent orders relative to this referral,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “This case will ensure the necessary emissions controls are in place to address hazardous air emissions.”
BASF notified the IEPA in March of 2020 that certain emissions of hazardous air pollutants were high in the facility’s “Area 21” process for sterol separation, which produces vegetable oil-based sterols. According to BASF, the emissions were first observed during a project to upgrade certain equipment associated with the operation of Area 21. Testing conducted on the vent streams entering the carbon absorption system showed increased emissions for 1,2 dichloroethane and vinyl chloride, demonstrating that the company’s carbon absorption system was not achieving the 98% removal efficiency required by law. Hazardous air pollutants are those known to cause cancer and other serious health impacts.
The consent orders require BASF to pay a $108,000 civil penalty and Kensing to pay a $70,000 civil penalty. The consent order for Kensing also requires it to comply with the terms and conditions of its IEPA construction permit to construct a new pollution control system onsite.
Attorney General Raoul’s lawsuit is part of his work to hold companies accountable for pollution in environmental justice communities. Attorney General Raoul’s Environmental Enforcement Division, which enforces civil environmental laws, has recovered millions of dollars from polluters and required companies to undertake environmental improvement projects in communities impacted by pollution. Raoul encourages residents to report environmental justice and other environmental concerns to his office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Garstka is handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau.