WAUKEGAN, Ill.—Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and State's Attorney Michael G. Nerheim have filed suit against AB Specialty Silicones to ensure environmental cleanup of the AB manufacturing site in Waukegan after a catastrophic explosion and fire.
The May 3 explosion caused extensive damage to the AB site and killed company co-owners Byron Biehn, 53, and Allen Stevens, 29, along with third-shift production supervisor Jeff Cummings, 57, and quality control chemist Daniel Nicklas, 24.
Filed May 31 in Lake County, Ill., Circuit Court, the lawsuit alleges that the explosion at AB caused an unknown amount of chemicals to be released into the air, causing air pollution and also threatening the land and water near the facility. The suit also alleges that contaminants released by the explosion and water used to extinguish the fire allowed chemicals to seep into storm sewers, contaminating a nearby wetland and Osprey Lake located one mile from the Waukegan facility.
"The explosion was tragic, and my thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones as a result," Raoul said in a news release regarding the lawsuit.
"As the community continues to recover from the trauma of this event," he said, "I have filed this lawsuit to protect residents and the environment from any chemical contamination."
In response to the lawsuit, AB issued a statement saying it was surprised and disappointed in Raoul's decision to sue the company.
"For nearly a month we have worked in full partnership with all regulatory, state, local and federal agencies on our shared goals of securing the site, protecting the Waukegan community, and ensuring it is safe for our employees to return to work," AB said. "We will continue to do so regardless of the status of the complaint from the Attorney General's office."