City Claims Metal Recycling Plant is Polluting Water

The city of Aurora, Ill., filed a complaint on Thursday in the Northern District of Illinois against a metal recycling company and its owners alleging that they violated the Clean Water Act by improperly disposing solid or hazardous waste and discharging contaminated stormwater at the Fox Valley Iron & Metal recycling site.

The complaint named four defendants: BS Iron, Inc.; Fox Valley Iron and Metal, LLC; Robert H. Swickert, Sr.; and Robert H. Swickert. It alleged that waste from the recycling plant contaminated stormwater and groundwater and threatened to harm neighboring properties and other nearby properties in the city. The city also claimed that the defendants “failed to take necessary corrective action to remediate a petroleum release from underground storage tanks,” which occurred in 1999.

The city purported that the site has been used for scrap metal recycling since 1933 and waste has been “stockpiled, stored, or disposed of at the site” since that year. The complaint lists chemicals and other hazardous and non-hazardous substances that are contributing to the pollution. The site has also released dust and bits of matter which have allegedly polluted the site and neighboring areas; as it accumulates, this is known as “Scrap Yard Soil Fill.” The city said “on information and belief, since 1933 a three to five-foot layer (or more) of Scrap Yard Soil Fill has been disposed across some or all of the site.”

The plaintiff claimed the alleged Clean Water Act violations may endanger the Fox River, which is used by its residents for potable water and for recreation. They said the company should have been checking stormwater discharges, performing monitoring, minimizing stormwater exposure to hazardous materials, inspecting the site and incoming scrap metal, and notifying the city of contaminated stormwater discharge.

The plaintiff sent a notice that they intended to file the lawsuit. In the complaint, they sought injunctive relief, re-payment for the city’s response costs, and punitive damages. The city, represented by its attorney Jeffery D. Jeep, said the companies and individuals violated the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and Illinois trespass and nuisance laws.