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Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Toxic Water Town

The city of Crestwood, IL is in hot water with the state government. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday claiming that not only did the village serve tainted water for more than 20 years, it knowingly lied to the EPA and residents repeatedly over the years.

One of the more blatant examples came from Crestwood’s own certified water operator. The Illinois EPA ordered the local well tested for toxins, and in a letter, Frank Scaccia said,

‘This sampling would not apply to our facility,’ because the town’s water came from Lake Michigan and not the well.

Officials repeated this lie numerous times over the years, and now Madigan is going after them. Officials face millions of dollars of fines if found guilty in the civil suit.

Crestwood officials violated the public’s trust and the laws designed to protect public health.

You may remember this story. A former Crestwood resident helped uncover the town’s water sins after two of her three children became ill with cancer.

Turns out, the water had been tainted with a highly toxic dry cleaning chemical. But officials fended off further scrutiny, says Madigan, by lying to authorities no fewer than 120 times over the years.

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The town’s current mayor and his father, the former mayor, along with waterboy Scaccia are all in trouble with state and federal authorities.

Why would they knowingly serve residents these carcinogens? Penny pinching. Crestwood was known to have some of the cheapest water around, “Good to Taste but Not to Waste!” Using the tainted well allowed the city to cut back on their purchase of Lake Michigan water.

The elder mayor, Chester Stranczek, became known nationally for his budget management. Now the trio can enjoy a new kind of notoriety.

All 3 men have admitted knowledge of the chemical contamination, discovered at various times over the years. A dry cleaner was located within 300 feet of the well. Perchloroethylene, a dry-cleaning solvent dumped years ago behind the business, breaks down into dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride. The former is a known carcinogen, especially when exposure occurs over a long period of time.

I’m all for conservation, but let’s avoid the dose of cancer-causing chemicals, eh?

Follow the story in the Chicago Tribune.

Image: daviddesign on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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