Drinking Water Settlement to Cost Illinois Company $2M

An Illinois company accused of spilling trichloroethylene into the ground near its Lisle, Ill., plant for over 20 years will pay up to $2 million to provide safe drinking water to the 154 families who live nearby.

Lockformer Company now must pay to extend municipal water mains to homes in two unincorporated subdivisions where groundwater was polluted by trichloroethylene (TCE), according to Illinois and DuPage County officials who filed a 2001 civil lawsuit against the company.

The TCE has been detected in the private wells of about half of those homes in the nearby Suburban Estates and Woodridge Estates subdivisions. The lawsuit, as well as others filed on behalf of residents living near the plant, asserted that between 1970 and 1992, the TCE continuously leached into the ground from Lockformer's 500-gallon rooftop tank.

"Safe and reliable drinking water is an absolute necessity … This latest action is one more step in ending the nightmare Lockformer caused by carelessly handling a dangerous chemical," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement.

This settlement is the most recent in a series of payments Lockformer and its parent companies have agreed to make in recent years to neighbors as a result of the TCE contamination. Last year, the companies agreed to pay $18.5 million in compensation to neighbors.

As a result of a 2002 court order, about 100 other homes near the plant began receiving municipal water earlier this year.

A civil suit against Honeywell Inc., which bought the company that once provided the TCE to Lockformer, also still is pending.

Chicago Sun-Times

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