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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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October 31, 2019


Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim today announced an agreed preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit against AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan, Ill. Raoul and Nerheim filed the lawsuit over a May 3 explosion that killed four people and released unknown quantities of chemicals into the surrounding area.

The interim order entered today requires AB Specialty Silicones to investigate in and around the facility to locate any contaminants released in the explosion and fire and to evaluate the impact on soil, surface water or ground water. The order also requires the company to clean up any contamination identified with oversight from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

“Today’s order ensures AB Specialty Silicones will remediate any environmental impacts of the explosion,” Raoul said. “It ensures residents in the surrounding area will be protected from any chemical contamination while we continue to work to hold the company accountable for this tragedy.”

“While my office continues to be saddened by the many lives impacted by this tragedy, we want to make sure the environmental impacts from this specific incident are also addressed,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said. “To that end, we will continue to work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to ensure the full extent of the contamination is identified and remediated.”

“The devastating explosion at AB Specialty Silicones resulted in significant impacts to the surrounding environment that must be addressed by the company,” Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim said. “This Interim Order will ensure the necessary steps are taken to identify the full extent of the contamination and all contaminants that were released during and following the explosion. Additionally, this will require the responsible party to remediate all contamination, to be documented by a remediation contractor and reviewed and approved by the Illinois EPA.”

The agreed preliminary injunction prohibits manufacturing from taking place at the facility and orders AB Specialty Silicones to:

  • Submit a comprehensive site investigation plan to the IEPA identifying the contaminants released and a plan for determining which areas were affected by the release.
  • Conduct a full investigation to determine the type and location of all impacted areas and propose a plan for remediation of all contamination.
  • Remediate all contamination and submit proof that remediation is complete.

Raoul and Nerheim filed the lawsuit on May 31 in Lake County Circuit Court against AB Specialty Silicones, which manufactures silicon derivative products. Raoul’s complaint alleges that a fire and explosion that occurred at the company’s Waukegan manufacturing facility around 9:30 p.m. on May 3 resulted in an unknown amount of chemicals being released into the air, causing air pollution and threatening land and water near the facility. Additionally, the complaint alleges that contaminants released by the explosion and water used to extinguish the fire allowed chemicals to seep into storm sewers, contaminating a wetland and Osprey Lake, located approximately one mile away from the plant.

Raoul’s lawsuit is based on a referral from the IEPA. The IEPA is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address any immediate risks to public health and the environment.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Christopher Grant and Assistant Attorney General Nancy Tikalsky are handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Enforcement Division, and Assistant State’s Attorney Lisle Stalter is handling the case for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.


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