Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against GMI Recycling Services, Inc. after a fire at the facility potentially compromised air and water quality.
The company's 10-acre facility, located in Ford Heights, a Chicago suburb, houses some 7,800 shredded tires. On May 24, a fire sparked at the facility, during which half of the inventory ignited, causing the incident to be visible from miles away. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials on the scene noted chemical odors indicative of "the presence of volatile organic compounds."
The burning of shredded tires results in the release of several oils, including "benzene, toluene and metals, which can mix with water runoff from firefighting activities and rainfall."
"This tire fire caused a significant threat to the environment and public health, and just as importantly, expended valuable resources of multiple fire departments, federal, state and local government agencies to respond to this emergency," said Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett. "The steps taken through this order will ensure prompt notification and required actions to limit environmental and public health impacts to the surrounding community."
As the suit makes it way through the court system, Madigan's office moved to address any immediate environmental issues via an interim order that "requires GMI to secure the facility, notify the IEPA in the event there are any more flare-ups and immediately contain any additional flare-ups."
Under the order the company is also mandated to prevent any potentially contaminated runoff at a the facility's retaining pond from spreading to nearby waters.
"This order will ensure that the company secures the site to protect residents from potential contamination caused by the fire," Madigan said.