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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Village Livid at Towering Infernal Landfill

CHICAGO (CN) - Roadway Express and the owner-operators of an illegal 90-foot high, 40-acre landfill contaminated drinking water with carcinogenic vinyl chloride, residents of a far south suburb of Chicago say in a class action.

Lead plaintiff Kenneth Allen, of Sauk Village, sued YRC Worldwide, Roadway Express, Arcadis U.S., and Lincoln Limited, in Cook County Court.

Sauk Village, pop. 10,000, is near the Indiana border. YRC Worldwide and Roadway Express owned and operated a freight transfer, maintenance and refueling facility there.

Less than half a mile away, in Ford Heights, one of the nation's poorest neighborhoods, Lincoln Limited operated an illegal, unlicensed 40-acre landfill, charging truckers just $5 to dump a load of garbage, according to Illinois Issues Online, a publication of the University of Illinois.

The garbage reached 90 feet tall, so high the operators said they would turn it into a ski hill, according to the Chicago Tribune. Village officials said they ran the dump to raise money.

Sauk Village's Well Number 3 was on the site, supplying residents with drinking water for years.

In 2009, "it was found that the water furnished by Well Number 3 had a high level of vinyl chloride, a chemical that has been linked to cancer and other health risks, and, as a result of the said finding, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ... issued a directive to the managing officers of Sauk Village to cease using water from that well," the complaint states.

"Vinyl chloride is a highly toxic chemical, and exposure to it can cause serious health effects. Exposure to it increases a person's risk of developing cancer - including liver, lung, and several other types of cancers. Exposure to it can damage the nervous system and cause changes in the immune system. There are many other additional health hazards reported to be associated with exposure to vinyl chloride.

"Chemical spills on the property of the facility and of the landfill were the source or a significant source of the vinyl chloride found in Well Number 3," the class claims.

Plaintiffs seek class certification, damages for negligence, trespass and nuisance, and want the defendants ordered to establish a fund for medical monitoring.

They are represented by Jerome Levy with Jerome Levy & Associates, and Edmund Scanlan.

The work of the final defendant, Arcadis, is not described in the lawsuit. It appears to be an engineering firm, a "surviving corporation [that] acquired Geraghty & Miller, Inc.," and, according to the plaintiffs, assumed its liabilities.

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