County Sues Chemtool Over Sewage


McHenry County, Ill., officials last week filed a lawsuit against lubricant and grease manufacturer Chemtool, alleging that a failing septic system is leaking sewage and other contaminants into the soil surrounding its 58-acre corporate headquarters in Crystal Lake, Ill.

McHenry County Circuit Court Judge Maureen McIntyre on May 19 denied the countys request for an emergency restraining order against Chemtool, but did schedule a June 9 hearing on the legal request. Assistant McHenry County States Attorney Tom Carroll said June 9 would be the first of four days of hearings on the countys motion.

Carroll noted that while the suit seeks fines, the amount is insignificant. Its a restraining order asking them to stop doing what we believe theyve been doing – especially putting the non-domestic materials into the septic system, he told Lube Report. We need their plans for the septic system, and we need to have the septic system approved. We dont know if the septic system is too small for the property, or what kind of load its taking or not. We dont know, as we werent told it was going in. We want them to cease and desist their pollution of the septic, and we want them to remediate any damage that has been done.

Defense attorney Donald Franz referred inquiries about the case to Chemtool, which could not be reached by Lube Report for comment.

Assistant McHenry County States Attorney Tom Carroll said the lawsuit is a three-count complaint, and that the countys health department and planning and development department each have a role in it. Health department officials had conducted several inspections of the property over the past six months, according to Carroll.

The first count is the health departments complaint alleging basically a failing septic system, along with the fact that the septic system was not permitted in the first place, Carroll explained. Basically, the property has two septics, and the second septic was installed without a permit. Both septics are facing difficulties at the moment. And theyve had to be pumped out regularly, about every four days, at least earlier this year when we were inspecting the property.

He said the second count in the complaint alleges that, because of the failing system, both domestic and non-domestic sewage from Chemtool has gone into the wetlands in the areas surrounding the factory. The nature of the non-domestic sewage is undetermined as of yet, he said. The IEPA [Illinois Environmental Protection Agency] is examining it, and those tests are not all back. All we know is its non-domestic.

The third count alleges violation of the county stormwater ordinance when it renovated the Crystal Lake facility in 1998. They did not get a certificate of occupancy for the property when they went through and made some of these changes, Carroll stated.

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