The Illinois Attorney General is calling a company owned by a member of the Illinois State University Board of Trustees the worst polluter in Illinois in the field of oil production. Attorney General Spokesman Scott Mulford says a lawsuit has been filed against Petco Petroleum, owned by J.D. Bergman over 61 violations in the last four years in Fayette County.
"In terms of quantity of waste material that is allowed to come up from these wells, it lingers in the area. Some of it can contaminate the surrounding area, may find its way to the waters of the state"
Company Spokesman Taylor Pensoneau says Petco will meet with the Attorney General's office and the EPA in the next 60 days to try to settle the allegations.
"Petco is committed to improving its operations and Petcco is certainly open to any recommendations or suggestions from the Attorney General's office."
As for the worst polluter in the state allegation, Pensoneau says that's overstating matters.
"Petco operates more than 1,300 wells in Fayette County. You know, these violations are not that numerous if you look at it from that viewpoint."
The Attorney General notes, though, that Petco's history already includes more than $350,000 in fines concerning hundreds of violations in 1999, 2005, and 2006. Mulford says the suit seeks civil penalties large enough to deter future spills.
"Part of the problems that we see over the years is that their equipment some of it simply has not been maintained to the specifications necessary to conduct their business."
Petco's wells include about 1,200 oil wells and 400 injection wells used to pump large volumes of salt water to help extract the oil. Some of the violations involve oil spills, others have been brine releases. Pensoneau says each of the 61 violations cited in the last four years has been addressed as it came up. The suit seeks to punish and halt what the state alleges is an ongoing pattern of conduct.
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