Lisa Madigan takes action against company involved in Seward ammonia leak

CHICAGO—In an emergency hearing Wednesday, May 2, the Circuit Court of Winnebago County granted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s request for an immediate injunction to allow the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to take possession of a tanker truck and equipment allegedly involved in the leak of anhydrous ammonia at a Seward business. A preliminary injunction hearing on the case was set for May 16 in Winnebago County Circuit Court.

Madigan filed a four-court complaint against Bradley Ellinor, doing business as Ellinor Trucking and Rock River Logistics of Lanark, in connection with the April 23 release of ammonia during a transfer of the product from Ellinor’s tanker to a storage tank at Seward Agricultural Supply, approximately 16 miles west of Rockford.

The IEPA referred the case to Madigan’s office April 27. The IEPA estimated that between 38,000 and 40,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia gas were released into the air and onto the ground during the release. The incident required the temporary evacuation of some Seward residents, and IEPA officials reported some livestock in a pen within 200 yards of the business were killed from exposure to the anhydrous ammonia fumes.

The injunction orders Ellinor to allow the IEPA to secure the vehicle and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) transfer hose for analysis. The injunction also prohibits Ellinor from using any equipment and hoses not appropriate for the safe delivery or transfer of anhydrous ammonia and to assess the immediate and surrounding area and clean up the remaining effects of the alleged ammonia contamination.

“When companies do not follow the required procedures for transporting hazardous material, serious accidents occur as they did in Seward,” Madigan said.

Madigan’s complaint seeks the statutory maximum civil penalty for the alleged violations.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerald Karr and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Marinelli are handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau.

from the May 23-29, 2007, issue

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