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Suit: Landfill, underground tank leak contaminated Sauk Village water supply

Sauk Village officials are suing a freight carrier and a landfill in the south suburb, claiming that chemical spills on the companies’ property contaminated the village’s water supply with cancer-causing materials.

The three wells that make up Sauk Village’s water supply were contaminated by vinyl chloride and other compunds as early as 2008 as a result of chemical spills on the property of Yellow Roadway Corporation and Lincoln Landfill, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

The village was ordered to supply residents with bottled water for about a month from July into August 2012 after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency detected unsafe levels of vinyl chloride–a known carcinogen–in the village’s well water, the SouthtownStar previously reported. The U.S. EPA previously has said there is no safe level of vinyl chloride in drinking water.

Roadway Express–a freight shipping company that has since merged with YRC–allegedly has had six major chlorine-solvent leaks between 1989 and 2005 in its underground tanks at 2000 E. Lincoln Hwy. in Sauk Village, directly adjacent to one of the village’s wells, according to the suit.

The village also claims Lincoln Landfill–at the northwest corner of Torrence Avenue and Lincoln Highway in Sauk Village, near another well–has irresponsibly dumped construction waste and other hazardous materials without a valid permit from the IEPA since 1993.

The village’s long-term goal is to use water from Lake Michigan, but since the chemicals were detected, it has had to use costly “air-stripping” units in its wells to make water safe for consumption, the suit says. The village has spent millions of dollars in dealing with the issue, the suit says.

Property values have gone down in the village, “causing a substantial hindrance to the growth and development of Sauk Village due to the water contamination being public knowledge,” the suit says.

Arcadis Inc.–which merged with the engineering firm Geraghty & Miller in 1993–is also named as a defendant in the suit. Geraghty & Miller consultants hired by Roadway Express failed to alert the IEPA to the water supply threat posed by chemicals stored there, the suit alleges.

A spokeswoman for YRC said the company had no comment on the suit, and an Arcadis spokeswoman declined to comment as company officials had not yet reviewed it. A representative for Lincoln Limited could not be reached Thursday night.

The seven-count suit claims the companies knew about the risks of the chemicals and were negligent in failing to prevent leaks. Sauk Village is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive, compensatory and statutory damages as well as court costs.