Madigan sues copper plant over emissions

Bryan Cohen Sep. 6, 2011, 12:59am


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on announced Friday that she filed a complaint against a copper plant based in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood over allegedly dangerous levels of lead emissions.

Madigan also obtained an agreed preliminary injunction order against the H. Kramer plant located at 1345 W. 21st St. that requires it to immediately reduce lead emissions from its plant. Madigan's three count complaint alleges that the company created a substantial danger to the environment and the public, including nearby school children.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency allegedly showed that the facility's lead emissions from April 2010 exceeded federal air quality standards. Emission levels were allegedly discovered by air monitors installed by IEPA officials in and around the facility, including at Benito Juarez Community Academy and the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School.

"The emissions coming from the H. Kramer facility pose serious health risks to the surrounding community," Madigan said. "Today's agreement requires H. Kramer officials to make immediate changes to reduce harmful pollution levels. My office will continue to work with state and federal environmental authorities to protect the community's health and safety."

Madigan's complaint asks the court to order H. Kramer to immediately determine the cause of the excess emissions and to take immediate action to reduce emissions to comply with regulatory and statutory standards. It also asks the court to require the company to pay civil penalties and all costs associated with Madigan's prosecution.

The agreed preliminary injunction entered into Friday will require H. Kramer to hire an outside engineering expert to conduct a ventilation study of the south foundry building, remediate the lead-contaminated gravel at the facility by year's end, replace existing pollution control technology serving the rotary furnaces in the south foundry building with state-of-the-art technology, continue to reduce lead-containing production processes, and meet with Madigan's office and state and federal environmental authorities within 10 days to discuss a proposal by H. Kramer to install state-of-the-art pollution control technology.

H. Kramer has already implemented some steps as a result of meetings with state and federal environmental authorities and with Madigan's office, including applying dust suppressants on the facility's gravel yard to prevent lead-contaminated dust from being blown into the air, installing high-speed vertical doors, including on the two entrances to the south foundry building, to maintain negative pressure and minimize uncontrolled emissions from the building, repairing and sealing all significant openings or holes in the roof to maintain negative pressure and minimize uncontrolled emissions from the building, eliminating the stack located in the southwest corner of the southwest corner of the facility and reducing lead-containing production processes at the facility.

Madigan said her office and federal and state environmental authorities have previously met with community organizations to discuss their concerns over the danger being posed to residents in the Pilsen community. Included in those discussions were the Pilsen Alliance and the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
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