Editor’s note: As The Rock River Times reported in the May 8-14, 2013, issue, bright orange floating oil containment booms have been deployed on the Rock River along the seawall of the MegaFab company, formerly W.A. Whitney, just south of the area known as the “Fishing Hole.” The deployment of the booms was in response to reports of an oily discharge oozing from the brick and stone in the seawall.The following response from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) was received after the original article had gone to press.
To: Frank Schier, Editor and Publisher
I have more information for you in regards to your inquiry about the Rock River. The IEPA began addressing this issue last fall with MegaFab and local officials. The Illinois EPA was first alerted to reports of an oily sheen on the Rock River in October of 2012. While drought conditions at that time made it difficult initially to observe the sheen on the river, follow-up inspections did reveal an oily sheen on the river and seepage from a retaining wall, but a source could not immediately be identified. The Rockford Fire Department deployed boom to contain the material. IEPA, in cooperation with local officials, instructed MegaFab that the issue needed to be addressed and that further sampling would be required to determine the source of the seepage. In November, borings done by the company on its property did find petroleum-based product. On Dec. 1, MegaFab installed absorbent containment boom, where it remains to date.
On March 11, 2013, IEPA issued a Violation Notice (VN) to MegaFab alleging four violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. That begins a statutory process that allows an alleged violator to respond to the agency by disputing the VN, or by proposing a Compliance Commitment Agreement (CCA) that addresses each violation and results in all issues in the incident being resolved. IEPA can accept or reject a CCA based on its review of the matter and whether it fully addresses the agency’s concerns. If the CCA is denied, IEPA can refer the case to the Illinois Attorney General’s office for court enforcement of remediation measures and/or penalties. As part of the VN, IEPA recommended several measures that could be taken by the company including installing an interceptor trench to capture any material being discharged, properly disposing of the petroleum-based product that has been found and the continued deployment and monitoring of boom on the river. These measures, if agreed to by the company, would be included in a proposed CCA. As of today, IEPA is in the process of reviewing the viability of a CCA for MegaFab and will determine what action to take.
Per agency protocol, you can request more information about this matter under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act by filling out a request at this link: http://epadata.epa.state.il.us/FOIA/FOIA_Request-I.asp or by contacting:
Division of Records Mgmt.
1021 N. Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
(217) 558-5101 (Voice)
From the May 15-21, 2013, issue