The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued an opinion granting summary judgment in favor of the State and against the defendants in People v. Ward, Case No. PCB 10-72. This case dealt with contaminated soil at a residence located at 202 Fackney Street, Carmi, White County, Illinois. The State alleged that defendant Timothy James transported six electrical transformers, given to him by defendant Byrom Ward, d/b/a Ward Electric, to the residence. James then spilled approximately 60 gallons of Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-laden oil onto the ground of his residence. Illinois EPA conducted an inspection of the residence and collected oil samples from the transformers. The results indicated that five of the transformers contained oil with PCB concentrations ranging from 260 ug/kg2 to 5,600,000 ug/kg. IEPA also collected soil samples that revealed that the soil in the backyard of the James residence and the pickup truck containing the transformers were contaminated by PCBs.
The State’s complaint alleged that the defendants violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act by (1) “caus[ing] or allow[ing] the open dumping of refuse and waste at the James residence”, (2) “disposing or abandoning wastes at a site that does not meet the requirements of the Act”, and (3) “causing or allowing the open dumping of refuse and waste in a manner that resulted in litter.” The State requested that the Pollution Control Board order the defendants to cease and desist from any further violations and pay civil penalties.
The defendants failed to respond to the complaint and also failed to respond to the State’s motion for summary judgment. Therefore, under the rules of the Pollution Control Board, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted by the defendants, and the Court granted the motion for summary judgment. The Court will impose a civil penalty on the defendants after court briefs have been filed by the parties.
This case should serve as a reminder to all companies or individuals notified of potential violations of environmental laws–don’t try to avoid the issue and make sure that you respond to the complaint! An experienced attorney may be able to help reduce your liability and penalty, even if you think that you are liable for an environmental problem.
Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments. To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your legal matter, please contact Chicago environmental attorney Dave Scriven-Young at (312) 239-9722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.