Senior Assistant Attorney General Raymond Callery and Assistant Attorney General Kevin Barnai are handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Enforcement Division.
CHICAGO, Ill. (WAND) – Attorney General Kwame Raoul is filing a lawsuit against Brainerd Chemical Midwest LLC (Brainerd Chemical) for allegedly allowing excess emissions of hydrogen fluoride from its chemical distribution facility in Danville, Illinois.
Studies show hydrogen fluoride is a corrosive chemical that is harmful to human health, at low levels causing irritation to the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract, with exposure at high levels potentially leading to death.
“Brainerd Chemical – in failing to properly maintain its facility – created a risk to public health and the environment in an environmental justice community,” Raoul said. “Businesses that are negligent in their duty to protect human health and follow the law must be held responsible.”
According to Raoul’s lawsuit [also available here], filed in Vermilion County Circuit Court, three residents living near the chemical facility contacted the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) in July 2022 to complain that their grass had turned brown, and plants appeared to die overnight. The IEPA inspected the facility and observed damaged and dead vegetation for approximately a quarter mile south of the facility.
IEPA officials held an inspection on July 15, where they observed a visible plume of emissions from the facility. The agency requested operational, inspection, maintenance and repair records for the air pollution control device intended to control hydrogen fluoride emissions.
Reports show the plant manager advised the IEPA that no such records existed, which is a violation of the facility’s air pollution control permits.
At the IEPA’s request, Brainerd Chemical ceased operations involving hydrofluoric acid at the facility.
Raoul’s lawsuit is based on a referral from the IEPA.
“The release of hydrofluoric acid from Brainerd Chemical storage tanks resulted in significant environmental impacts and a threat to the health of area residents,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “The Illinois EPA requested Attorney General Raoul’s office represent the Agency and obtain this order to prevent any further illegal release of emissions and to ensure appropriate actions are taken to protect human health and the environment.”
An agreed interim order [also available here], was entered on Tuesday, requiring Brainerd Chemical to continue to cease and desist from operations utilizing hydrofluoric acid; conduct an assessment of the facility’s pollution control equipment and chemical storage tanks; and take all required corrective actions to bring the facility into compliance prior to restarting operations.