A DeKalb County Circuit Court judge has ordered Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. to take extra precautions to prevent the release of noxious gases in the wake of a Jan. 14 incident that was blamed for sickening dozens of students and staff at Cortland Elementary School.
The Jan. 31 order, agreed to in advance by Waste Management, prohibits the company from digging into solid waste at the landfill if the wind is from a southerly direction in excess of 10 miles per hour or if other conditions would cause the digging to impact air quality. The order also requires employees to wear gas monitors to detect releases when excavating at the landfill. Finally, the order mandates that Waste Management install a weather station at the landfill to continuously record conditions and report them to the IEPA. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had sought the order. In an announcement, Madigan says:
“We sought this court order to prevent future incidents like this that endanger the health of everyone near the landfill,” Madigan said. “The order requires Waste Management of Illinois to take immediate steps to ensure this cannot happen again.”
The Attorney General has also filed a civil lawsuit against the company, alleging several violations of the environmental laws stemming from the Jan. 14 incident, including conduct that caused substantial endangerment to the public health and welfare, air pollution, violations of waste disposal regulations and violations of the landfill permit. In each count of the complaint, Madigan’s office seeks the statutory maximum penalty of $50,000 per violation and $10,000 for each day each violation continues. A status hearing on the suit has been set for Mar. 25.