REALITY CHECK: Could lawsuit over Springfield toxic waste be prevented?
SPRINGFIELD (WICS) --- Springfield city officials have agreed to pay $684,000 toward federal cleanup of a long-abandoned steel-producing company.
The amount is half what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sought in a federal lawsuit.
The city owns a portion of the 50-acre site where Springfield Iron Co. ceased operations in 1905.
"Back then, they didn't have the sophistication to understand the impact of their activities on the environment," said Alec Davis, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group. "It isn't uncommon in now modern times to find situations where there was contamination in place that we don't know about. The decision then comes, what do we do with it?"
The Justice Department sought to hold the city liable.
The problem arose in 2010 when sludge containing carcinogenic coal tar seeped onto a nearby sidewalk. The EPA replaced 4,300 tons of coal tar and contaminated soil with clean fill in 2014 and sought reimbursement in 2017.
The city argued it shouldn't be liable, that EPA waited too long to seek payment and that the city couldn't afford the bill. Mediation settled the matter.
"It'll move forward with the legal process," Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said. "If that doesn't render a result, we're still going to review it with the inspector general."
Langfelder says the city council members are expected to meet to approve or deny funds to support the settlement.