JOLIET, Ill. (CN) - Five hundred people had to be evacuated from a suburban business park when Enbridge Energy contaminated it with crude oil, Attorney General Lisa Madigan says. The state says the September spill also contaminated a creek in suburban Romeoville, and Enbridge has not yet cleaned up the mess.
The action comes on the heels of $3.6 million lawsuit in Battle Creek, Mich., filed by 48 people who say an Enbridge pipeline leak there led to an environmental "catastrophe," giving them "headaches, nausea, burning eyes and dizziness," and forcing some families to evacuate their homes.
Madigan says that on or around Sept. 9, Enbridge's pipeline, which carries 670,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Ashland, Wisc., through the Midwest, spilled oil in the Romeoville business park.
"Representatives of the Illinois EPA inspected the site and observed crude oil discharge flowing from the area around the pipeline onto Parkwood Avenue, entering a storm sewer catch basin and releasing into an unnamed creek," the state claims in Will County Chancery Court.
The creek flows into the Des Plaines River.
The oil also contaminated a nearby sanitary sewer, "impacting a lift station discharged to the Romeoville waste treatment plant," Madigan says.
After the leak was discovered, the Romeoville Fire Department evacuated around 500 people from the business park, due to the possible release of harmful vapors, including benzene, a carcinogen.
Madigan says Enbridge shut down 3 miles of pipeline, containing 6,000 to 17,000 barrels of crude, but has failed to remove all contaminants from the ground and water, or run appropriate tests.
Speaking for Enbridge, Jennifer Varey in the company's public relations department, said the company "has worked cooperatively will all of the regulatory authorities involved in responding to the incident."
She added, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order with a number of items that Enbridge was required to comply with, and we have successfully completed nearly all of the items and will soon finish with the remainder."
The cost for cleanup is estimated at $60 million, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Officials estimated that the pipeline leaked at least 256,000 gallons of crude oil, temporarily displacing a food pantry and some Romeoville businesses near the site," the newspaper reported.
The state demands remediation and demands civil penalties of $50,000 for each violation of the Illinois Environment Protection Act, and $10,000 for each day of violation.
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