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Attorney General Raoul announces over $360,000 settlement with Stepan Company over alleged air pollution

Chemical Manufacturer Also Required to Comply with Future Emission Checks

Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced a Will County Circuit Court judge entered a consent order with a chemical manufacturing company, over alleged environmental violations at its Elwood, Illinois facility. Through the consent order, Stepan Company agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $360,725 and take steps to prevent future air pollution.

Attorney General Raoul’s office filed a complaint on June 24, 2022 against Stepan Company (Stepan), which manufactures specialty organic chemicals such as emulsifiers and detergent bases. Raoul’s complaint alleged Stepan violated various air pollution provisions of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, the Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations and federal regulations, as well as operating permit provisions.

“I appreciate Stepan Company’s cooperation throughout this process, as we worked to resolve the issues and protect our environment from future violations,” Raoul said. “I will continue working to protect Illinois’ environment and to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay the cost of cleanup.”

Raoul’s complaint stemmed from 2020 incident during which routine preventative maintenance was attempted on an aboveground chemical storage tank at Stepan’s Elwood facility. During this maintenance, an equipment failure resulted in the release of approximately 20 pounds of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere in just a two-minute period. Ethylene oxide is a listed hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

In addition to paying a civil penalty, Stepan will complete catalyst checks on certain catalytic oxidizers no later than Dec. 31, 2022.

The lawsuit was based on a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

“The Illinois EPA’s referral of this matter to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and their successful negotiated resolution, is another example of how Illinois has been a national leader in protecting against dangers associated with ethylene oxide emissions,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim.  “The Illinois EPA has invested significant resources to address sources of ETO emissions in Illinois and will continue our work to enforce permit requirements to restrict emissions of this hazardous air pollutant.”

Senior Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Pamenter handled the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau.

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