Environmental cleanup efforts in Rockford, Ill., are continuing following a fiery train derailment in June 2009 that leaked ethanol into surrounding soil and water, and killed one woman.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joseph Bruscato have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad Company, as a result of the derailment. The lawsuit alleges the environment and people in the area were endangered by the ethanol.
A six-count complaint alleging environmental violations was filed, according to the AG’s office. In the train derailment, which occurred June 19, 12 tank cars carrying ethanol caught fire and burned at the Mulford Road crossing in Rockford. The suit is intended to help protect the affected area and the residents who live nearby from the damage caused by the intense fire and the release of thousands of gallons of ethanol into the ground near approximately 100 private wells and two community water supply wells, the AG’s office said.
Along with filing the suit, Attorney General Madigan requested, and the Court entered, an agreed order which ensures a thorough investigation and implementation of action plans by the railroad to address the environmental damage the accident caused.
Madigan and Bruscato asked the court to order Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad (CCP) to take immediate cleanup action and submit timely reports to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) as the remediation progresses. The IEPA referred the matter to Madigan’s office on June 25.
Fourteen tank cars of the 114-car train, each containing 30,000 gallons of ethanol, derailed. Twelve of those cars caught fire, consuming an estimated 360,000 gallons of the ethanol. The two other derailed tank cars did not burn but were damaged and spilled approximately 55,000 to 75,000 gallons of ethanol into the surrounding soil and into an unnamed creek, which is a tributary to the Kishwaukee River, potentially affecting groundwater and surface water.
A status hearing on the case in has been scheduled in Winnebago County Circuit Court for September 10, 2009 at 9 a.m.
Sources: Associated Press, Illinois Attorney General’s Office
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