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October 7, 2010

ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN, WILL COUNTY STATE’S ATTORNEY JAMES GLASGOW FILE SUIT OVER ROMEOVILLE OIL SPILL

Enbridge Energy Must Assess Groundwater Impacts and Pay State Costs

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow filed an eight-count complaint today in Will County Circuit Court alleging state environmental violations by Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, following a September pipeline failure in Romeoville. Madigan and Glasgow also requested, and the court entered, an agreed interim order requiring that Enbridge identify and inspect water supply mains, sanitary sewers and storm sewers, along with private wells and groundwater within half a mile of the leak, to assess the impact of the oil leak and ensure clean-up.

Madigan and Glasgow filed the suit to ensure protection of area residents from potential health hazards from crude oil that spilled into the ground near the pipeline and near two community water supply wells.

The eight-count civil lawsuit alleges that as a result of the oil spill, Enbridge has caused danger to the public health and welfare, violated the water and air pollution laws and created a public nuisance. The suit seeks to ensure proper clean-up of all pollution caused by the spill, testing of groundwater, soil and sediment for possible contamination and remediation of all impacted areas and nearby water. In addition, Madigan and Glasgow’s suit asks the court to require Enbridge, the owner of the 34-inch pipeline, to pay all response and oversight costs related to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (IEPA) response to the September 9 spill.

“Enbridge must be held accountable for all of the environmental and public health impacts of this oil spill,” Madigan said. “Through this suit, we will ensure that Enbridge fully assesses and cleans up any pollution from the oil so that the residents of this area are protected.”

“I have worked closely with Attorney General Madigan on many occasions over the years to hold companies accountable for environmental infractions that pose threats to the health and safety of the citizens of Will County,” said Will County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow. “Our latest joint action will protect Romeoville residents by requiring Enbridge Energy to quickly identify and clean up the damage it caused to the public water supply and surrounding natural areas.”

Oil was discovered leaking from the area around the pipeline near 719 Parkwood Ave. on September 9. Crude oil from Enbridge’s pipeline was leaking into a storm sewer catch basin and into a nearby unnamed creek. The water then flowed into a retention pond which ultimately flows into a tributary of the Des Plaines River.

The release of oil and its degradation byproducts into the air, soil, surface water and groundwater can affect the respiratory and central nervous systems if inhaled and affect aquatic life in polluted waters.

The agreed order obtained by Madigan and Glasgow requires Enbridge take the following specific actions:

  • Within seven days, Enbridge must conduct a private well survey within half a mile of the pipeline leak. Enbridge also will propose a plan to evaluate any impact on private wells and groundwater at and around the Romeoville Nature Preserve and provide the results of the survey and the plan to the IEPA.
  • Within 15 days, identify all community water supply mains, service lines, storm sewers and sanitary sewers in areas that might be impacted or threatened by the oil leak. If Enbridge identifies any lines or sewers that have been impacted, the order requires that Enbridge conduct inspections in coordination with the owner or operator to determine if they have been compromised. Ten days after completion of these inspections, Enbridge must provide its findings to the IEPA.
  • Reimburse the State of Illinois for all reasonable response and oversight costs incurred by the IEPA as a result of the oil leak.

The complaint asks the court to order Enbridge to immediately identify the nature and extent of soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water contamination and conduct testing. The complaint also asks the court to order Enbridge to remediate impacted areas in the storm and sanitary sewers, utility corridors, drainage ditch, retention pond, tributaries and the Des Plaines River as needed. It also asks the court to order Enbridge to pay all costs, including oversight, sampling and court costs of prosecution.

The Court has scheduled a status hearing on the case in Will County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2010.

Bureau Chief RoseMarie Cazeau, Supervising Attorney Rebecca Burlingham and Assistant Attorney General Vanessa Horton are handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to lead clean-up work at the spill site.

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