News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722

U.S. EPA Reaches $39,926 Settlement With Founder of River Forest Dry Cleaners Superfund Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced in a Federal Register Notice that it reached an administrative settlement for recovery of past response costs with Edward Ditchfield, the founder of the River Forest Dry Cleaners Superfund site in River Forest, Cook County, Illinois.  River Forest is a suburb of Chicago.  The settlement requires Ditchfield to pay $39,926, plus possible accrued interest.

After EPA received an e-mail from a concerned teacher, U.S. EPA conducted indoor air and sub-slab samples in facilities around the Site in November 2009, February 2010 and March 2010. The results did not indicate any level of contamination that warranted a removal action.  According to a news article on, River Forest Dry Cleaners admitted that its dry cleaning chemicals seeped into the ground. River Forest has a law specifically banning the use of well water (groundwater) and, therefore, the contaminated well water did not endanger the public.

Under the Superfund law (also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or “CERCLA”), owners or operators of facilities are liable for the federal government’s costs incurred in response to a release of hazardous substances.  Those response costs can include investigation, testing, and site assessment.

In this case, U.S. EPA apparently incurred response costs when it investigated and conducted sampling at the site.  Ditchfield, as an owner or operator of the site, may have been liable to reimburse U.S. EPA for those past response costs.

The public has the right to submit comments on the proposed settlement on or before December 19, 2011.  According to the Federal Register notice, comments should be addressed to environmental attorney Peter Felitti at U.S. EPA.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments. To subscribe to this blog and and sign up for my free newsletter, go to 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

  • Bob

    This is so typical of IEPA. When the state is facing a huge potential clean up cost, they find a way to make the problem not a problem. In this case, the dry cleaner did not have any assets for the state to go after. So the state would have had to pay for the clean up. The little fine this guy paid was the only money the state could get.

    This is similar to the asbestos that keeps washing up at Illinois beach state park. The state claims that hundreds of pieces that was up on the beach from the old Mansville asbestos plant are not a hazard. Yet, these pieces are friable and kids play in the sand with the asbestos pieces.

    The reason this is not a problem is that IEPA signed a settle agreement with Mansville years ago and Mansville is off the hook. IEPA would be totally responsible for the clean up costs estimated to be over 50 million dollars.

    Ironically, if you break 3 floor tiles is a school, IDPH claims is it a health hazard and requires a major clean up. Even though no testing has ever shown this to be of any risk. Such is the hypocrisy of the politics of Illinois. Of course, one of the bigger asbestos abatement firms was the brother in law of the head of the IDPH asbestos branch.

    If it does not make sense – follow the money.

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