ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH LAKE COUNTY PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURER OVER WATER POLLUTION
Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, today announced a settlement with Baxter Healthcare Corporation (Baxter) that will ensure the company does not contaminate nearby bodies of water.
Madigan’s settlement was entered in Lake County Circuit Court with Baxter, which operates its research and development facility at 25212 W. Illinois Route 120 in Round Lake, Ill. The settlement resolves concerns of residents and community groups that contacted the Attorney General’s Office about Baxter’s onsite wastewater system that emptied into a tributary of Long Lake.
“This settlement will help protect Long Lake from contamination and require Baxter to improve water quality in the lake and its tributaries,” Madigan said. “I appreciate the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office partnering with my office to help preserve the lake for future generations.”
“I am pleased that we were able to work with the Attorney General’s Office and Baxter to resolve this matter, and that the settlement includes the wetland restoration project which will benefit the natural resources in Lake County impacted by Baxter’s discharges,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim.
Madigan and Nerheim sued Baxter in December 2017 after the company violated its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit by releasing wastewater containing contaminants that exceeded allowable limits into a tributary of Long Lake. Baxter manufactures healthcare products, and the company’s NPDES permit allows for treated water to be discharged into the lake. According to discharge monitoring reports Baxter submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the company violated its permit several times between January and May 2016 by discharging water that contained more than its allowable limit of total suspended solids and contaminants that deplete oxygen levels.
Inadequate oxygen levels in water can lead to rapid growth and decomposition of plants such as algae, which can have negative effects on the ecosystem of a body of water. Excessive levels of total suspended solids can also have negative effects on aquatic life.
Madigan’s settlement requires Baxter to prevent future contamination of Long Lake, a concern raised by community groups in contact with Madigan’s office. Earlier this year, Baxter connected its wastewater discharge system to the village of Fox Lake Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility. The settlement also directs Baxter to pay a $75,000 civil penalty.
The settlement also requires Baxter to fund a significant wetland restoration project that will improve water quality in tributaries that flow to Long Lake. Baxter is required to pay $20,000 to the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves, which will fund wetland restoration of Sargent Marsh in the Kettle Grove Forest Preserve. The project will involve removing invasive plant species, installing native wetland plants and additional work to help reduce run-off and restore groundwater at the 35-acre site. The project will help to stabilize Sargent Marsh, which eventually flows into the tributary of Long Lake impacted by Baxter’s wastewater discharge.
Assistant Attorney General Molly Snittjer handled the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau and Assistant State’s Attorney Lisle Stalter handled the case for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.