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Illinois AG Sues Corning Over Contaminated Site

Photonics.com
Aug 2006
CHICAGO, Aug. 3, 2006 -- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against Corning Inc. over soil and groundwater contamination at a former factory site owned by the Corning, N.Y.-based fiber optics and glass manufacturer.

According to Madigan's suit, a water sample collected in May showed elevated concentrations of the degreasing solvent trichloroethylene (TCE), a suspected carcinogen, in a private residential well near the Crystal Lake site. Madigan said exposure to TCE also can cause eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, headaches and even death from respiratory or cardiac difficulties.

The attorney general said that, from approximately 1936 through 2000, the industrial plant on the site conducted plating, metal fabrication, machine stamping and welding operations, and TCE was used to degrease machined metal parts. In 2000, Corning bought the five-acre site which is surrounded by residential homes, some with private wells.

According to Madigan's complaint, Corning demolished the plant in December 2000, placed clean fill and topsoil on the site and graded it to provide drainage. Between 2001 and 2004, the attorney general said, Corning tested soil at the site and groundwater off-site and its own results showed that TCE levels exceeded Illinois standards. However, according to Madigan's suit, Corning failed to sample any neighboring private wells, failed to tell state authorities the extent of the contamination and didn't perform any corrective measures.

“Neighbors of industrial plants should not have to worry about the safety of their drinking water,” Madigan said in a statement. “It is Corning's responsibility to ensure that the water supply for local residents is free of toxic chemicals.”

The five-count complaint, filed in McHenry County Circuit Court, seeks an injunction requiring Corning to provide an alternative method of supplying safe drinking water to residents and to conduct an environmental impact investigation to determine the extent of the contamination. The suit seeks a penalty of $50,000 for each violation, plus $10,000 for each day it continues, and asks that Corning be required to pay all associated cleanup costs.

For more information, visit: www.ag.state.il.us



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