Hazardous Waste Facility Sues Transport Companies For $1.3m

On Wednesday in the Northern District of Illinois, Trex Properties LLC sued dozens of companies that generated or transported materials containing hazardous substances that were treated and/or disposed of at the Trex facility in the city of Melrose Park, Ill. Trex alleged these hazardous substances have contaminated the soil and groundwater at the Trex facility, which has threatened public health and the environment.

Trex has sought recovery of $1.3 million in past response costs incurred due to the release and threatened release of hazardous substances into the environment at and from the Illinois facility.  In 2014, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) issued a letter to Trex requiring additional investigation related to the “Delineation Workplan and Groundwater Management Zone (GMZ).  Trex originally submitted the Delineation Workplan to the IEPA in November of 2013 for review.  Trex submitted a phase II plan with corrective measures, which the IEPA approved with certain conditions and modifications required.  One remediation, for example, required “in-situ chemical oxidation (“ISCO”) soil mixing at three hot spots followed by slow feed ISCO thereafter, and quarterly monitoring reports and sampling plans.” Some of the hazardous materials found at the site include: “parent compounds 1,1,1-trichloroethane (111-TCA); tetrachloroethylene (PCE); trichloroethylene (TCE); daughter compounds 1,1,2-trichloroethane; 1,1-dichloroethane; 1,1 dichloroethane; 1,2-dichloroethane; cis-1,2-dichloroethylene; trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, vinyl chloride; and other halogenated compounds including carbon tetrachloride; chloroethane; chloroform and methylene chloride.”

The complaint noted Trex’s record with each defendant and the contracts which allowed these defendants to bring toxic materials in for disposal or treatment.  The number of gallons worth of material that each defendant brought in is also recorded.  Trex stated that they have reached out to each defendant and to date none of them have cooperated or paid any response costs. 

Trex has claimed three counts in the complaint—cost of recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), contribution under CERCLA, and declaratory relief.  Under CERCLA, Trex argued each defendant “is liable as a person who by contract, agreement or otherwise arranged for disposal or treatment, or arranged with a transporter for transport for disposal or treatment, of materials containing hazardous substances owned by such Defendant, at the Trex Illinois Facility.”  Furthermore, it argued defendants are “jointly and severally liable for the voluntary past and future response costs incurred and to be incurred by Trex.”  The contribution claim follows the same aspects made for the cost of recovery.

Trex is being represented by The Justis Law Firm LLC.