KANE COUNTY, Ill. — The owner of a rural Kane County gas station faces legal action from the state after an environmental spill. 

Attorney Ted Meyers says his client Joseph Lazar, of Hampshire, has already paid nearly a million dollars worth of clean-up following the April 6 gas spill. Still, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office is moving forward with a lawsuit.

“He wanted to make his tanks better. He’s guilty of trying to make things better,” attorney Ted Meyers told WGN News.  
 
At the corner of Rt. 64 and Rt. 47 in Lily Lake sits a gaping hole in the parking lot of the Shell gas station. Lazar hired a contractor, Crown Tank, to replace service line pipes to seven underground gas tanks. 

An excavator dug trenches, which were left open for 10 days. 

“A terrible rainstorm hit, the water runs into the trench, and lifts the tank up from below as the water rises,” Meyers said. “The tanks then got crushed.” 

Three tanks leaked 8,000 gallons of gasoline into a ditch, mixing with rainwater that traveled under Rt. 64 into a five-acre wetlands area and tributary that flows into nearby Ferson Creek. 

Originally an environment engineer, Jessica Mino is now the Kane County Program Director for the Conservation Foundation. She says the large spill could potentially be harmful to the surrounding environments.

“We want to make sure we’re protecting the wetlands to the best of our ability,” Mino said. “There is a lot of biodiversity kept in those areas that has a limited amount of habitat.”

Meyers said his client has been working with an environmental consultant to clean up the spill, removing contaminated soil and water. All gas tanks have also been removed from the site. 

“What Mr. Lazar did was everything they asked to be done,” Meyers said. “He did it immediately.” 

But last week, the AG’s office filed a lawsuit. 

“They start off with substantial danger to the environment, count one, contaminating water, open dumping of waste resulting in deposition of waste in standing or flowing waters,” Meyer said.  

The lawsuit requires the owner to investigate the cause of the release and thoroughly remediate contamination. 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said: 

“The actions of the station owner and operator resulted in widespread contamination to area property, including a large wetland, and full extent of area contamination is not yet fully known. This lawsuit is necessary to ensure the defendants complete appropriate remediation and restoration to remove and address environmental impacts while protecting area residents.” 

Mino said long-term monitoring in place would be a good thing.  

“With wetlands and tributaries, there’s a lot of inner connectedness in our environmental systems,” she said. “We want to make sure it is actually contained and properly treated.”