EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) – Apex Oil Co. must complete an extensive environmental cleanup underneath the Village of Hartford, where a nine million gallon pool of petroleum products has polluted the water and released toxic vapors, a federal judge ruled.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cost of the cleanup to be $150 million. Apex formerly owned one of several Hartford-area refineries. Spills and leaks over several decades from underground pipes running from the refineries to terminals along the Mississippi River created the pool, which at one point was 24 feet thick. Hartford attorneys say the pool contains cancer-causing benzene at 6,000 times the acceptable levels for drinking water and that it was caused 400 complaints of petroleum odors in homes since 1966 and 20 house fires.
The cleanup plan requires a liquid and vapor extraction system be installed to remove and treat the petroleum contamination. In April, Shell Oil Products US and Premcor Refining Group reached a $16 million proposed settlement with Hartford residents about the toxic fumes.
There are currently five other related cases still pending, the latest of which was filed in Madison County Court on July 15, 2008.