CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a lawsuit on Monday against a Peoria County minerals operation for allegedly causing water pollution by discharging stockpiled road salt at its Bartonville facility.
During inspections by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency between 2008 and 2011, Carrie Scharf Materials Co. was found to have salt residue on its conveyer supports and beneath its conveyer, indicating that it spilled salt into the Illinois River. The company receives salt via barge and conveys it over the Illinois River levee so it can stockpile the salt in Bartonville for future sale.
Scharf Materials uses a subsurface drainage system allowing contaminated storm water to seep through the ground, which was allegedly discharged into the Illinois River. Water samples of the discharge taken during the inspections and by the company itself indicated elevated concentrations of cyanide and chloride.
Chloride is one of the key components of road salt, which contains an anti-caking ingredient that includes traces of cyanide. The additive prevents salt crystals from hardening and making it tough to spread on roadways. Given the mild winter, the runoff from uncovered stockpiles is unusually large and possibly very deadly to aquatic life.
"The conditions at this facility have created a significant threat to the river's fish and plant life," Madigan said.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in Peoria County Circuit Court, seeks a maximum statutory civil penalty of $50,000 for each Illinois Environmental Protection Act violation and an additional $10,000 penalty for each day the violation occurred on the three allegations of water pollution. Three additional allegations point to various permit violations that could lead to a penalty of up to $10,000 per day.