Environmental Protection

Ill., Greenville Co. Settle Mercury Spill

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has reached a settlement with a Greenville waste hauling company that caused a mercury spill at its office in July 2004. The settlement, which was approved on Oct. 16 by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, requires D & L Disposal to pay a civil penalty of $8,500 and allow the state of Illinois to use its landfill space for dumping refuse.

Madigan's office filed a complaint against the company in December 2006 alleging improper storage and improper disposal of hazardous waste. A small glass vial of mercury had been improperly kept in D & L Disposal's Greenville office. The spill occurred when the vial accidentally broke as employees discarded it into a trash bag, according to an Oct. 28 press release.

"Mercury is a known hazardous substance," Madigan said. "It is important for businesses and individuals to exercise extreme caution when they have discovered such a substance. The law sets out clear guidelines for the proper storage and disposal of hazardous waste that are critical to protecting public health and our environment."

Public officials and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) handled the cleanup.

Madigan said that public health experts regard mercury as highly toxic and posing a health threat to humans, particularly young children and pregnant women. Prolonged, low-level exposure to mercury may also contribute to learning disabilities in children.

Under the terms of the settlement, D & L will pay a civil penalty of $8,500 within 30 days. In addition, Madigan and D& L agreed that the company will perform a supplemental environment project (SEP) by making 1,300 tons or $45,500 worth of landfill capacity available to the IEPA free of charge at any of three landfills it operates in Roxana, Litchfield-Hillsboro, and Bond County. SEPs are performed by defendants in environmental matters to promote the goals of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act to restore, protect and enhance the environment.

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