Watchdog: "Illinois Pollution Enforcement Hampered by Politics"

"Toxic sludge oozed out of rusty barrels, soaked through cardboard boxes and spilled over frothy vats inside a west suburban warehouse raided by state inspectors in January 2008.

Even though the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had plenty of evidence to file charges against the owner and operator of Anchor Metal Finishing, top agency officials sat on the case for more than a year. Meanwhile, carcinogenic solvents and caustic acids kept leaching from barrels packed haphazardly into a ramshackle building, two blocks away from a Schiller Park subdivision.

What appeared to be an obvious violation of state environmental laws became entangled in one of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's political feuds, delaying action for months. Dozens of other cases against polluters languished as well, largely because Blagojevich and his top aides refused to refer them to his archnemesis, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, a Tribune investigation found."

Michael Hawthorne reports for the Chicago Tribune August 23, 2009.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009