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September 27, 2019


Lawsuit Alleges Devansoy Improperly Handled Wastewater Resulting in Substantial Danger to the Environment and Public Health

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a lawsuit against Devansoy, Inc. alleging the company violated its water pollution permit and released wastewater to the Rock Run Creek that resulted in the death of at least 178,000 fish.

Raoul filed the lawsuit in Stephenson County Circuit Court following an Aug. 27 release of wastewater from a hose to the pump Devansoy uses to transfer wastewater. Devansoy operates a facility in Rock City, Ill. where it produces pea protein and processes soy beans to make soy powder which is then used to make soy milk and other soy products. During the manufacturing process, wastewater is produced and then stored in a primary lagoon until it is sprayed onto nearby fields. Devansoy has a permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to operate and store water in a primary lagoon year-round, as well as two adjacent lagoons December through March.

Raoul alleges Devansoy violated this permit and improperly handled wastewater. According to the complaint, on Aug. 30 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) received calls regarding a fish kill in Rock Run Creek. The IDNR and IEPA investigated the complaint and traced the fish kill to Devansoy’s facility. The IDNR and IEPA determined that on Aug. 27, Devansoy’s hose to the pump that transfers soy process wastewater ruptured and caused a large amount of wastewater to travel to Rock Run Creek, causing the fish kill. IEPA also learned that Devansoy was utilizing the temporary adjacent lagoons throughout the year.

“Devansoy’s irresponsible actions had lasting effects on the surrounding environment,” Raoul said. “I am committed to holding businesses accountable for complying with the laws that protect our environment.”

Additionally, according to the lawsuit, Devansoy did not attempt to clean up the release of wastewater or report the discharge it discovered on Aug. 27. An employee of Devansoy also reported that it was allegedly normal for the pump to leak water onto the ground.

The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office, based on a referral from the IEPA.

“The actions of the company were in direct violation of Illinois environmental regulations and the terms of their operating permit,” IEPA Director John J. Kim said. “The company failed to properly mitigate the release from their property and failed to report the incident, resulting in significant impacts to the Rock Run Creek, including a fish kill. These factors necessitated that the State take immediate action to address the situation.”

“IDNR Conservation Police and Fisheries personnel are committed to protecting our state’s waterways, aquatic life and all of our natural resources,” IDNR Office of Law Enforcement Director Jerry Costello said. “We appreciate the support of our partners at the IEPA and the Illinois Attorney General’s office in investigating pollution cases like the one that resulted in a significant fish kill on Rock Run Creek in Stephenson County.”

The Attorney General’s office and Devansoy have reached an agreement on an agreed immediate and preliminary injunction order, which obligates Devansoy to immediately stop discharging into the adjacent lagoons, empty the lagoons, clean up any waste residue, and investigate and remedy the causes of the releases from the lagoons. Devansoy is also prohibited from using the adjacent lagoons until the company demonstrates to IEPA that they can operate in accordance with their permit.

Assistant Attorneys General Ellen O’Laughlin and Elizabeth Dubats are handing the case for Raoul’s Environmental Enforcement Division.


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