Baxter Admits to Environmental Wrongdoing Impacting Long Lake as Part of the IEPA's Ongoing Investigation
Ongoing Illinois Government Investigation of Baxter (See the 9/27/2016 details):
In 9/16/2016, SPILL filed a complaint with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IL PCB). The complaint questioned Baxter's disposal of "Urgent Product Recalls" waste through the Baxter sewage treatment facility, which sends its wastewater discharge into Squaw Creek that flows directly into Long Lake.
Listed in the complaint, SPILL submitted evidence to the IL PCB that Baxter sought pricing estimates for the disposal of pharmaceutical research waste through the public sanitary district. The public sanitary district responded with their concerns over the high BOD content of the material to be sent and specifically noted that it must be tested before being sent through the regional facility. Baxter chose not to comply with the disposal standards set forth by our public regional sanitary district, and Baxter did not send it to be treated by our public sanitary facility. The IL PCB has asked the IEPA to investigate our concerns about where this material was disposed.
Baxter has admitted to dumping recalled pharmaceutical products and high BOD solutions into their own sewage treatment facility which makes its way into Long Lake.
On 10/31/2016, as part of the ongoing investigations of Baxter's recurring violations at its wastewater treatment plant, the IEPA required Baxter to provide additional details.
On 11/7/2016, in response to the IEPA request, Baxter disclosed details about the discharges in a letter addressed to the IEPA. SPILL obtained the letter as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The letter from Baxter admits to the discharge of both large volumes of high BOD containing solutions, and recalled product solutions. (Click here for copy of letter.)
This letter confirms that Baxter is NOT committed to mitigating the environmental effects of its manufacturing to the fullest extent. Baxter admits that its solutions to rectify the exceedances "cannot guarantee to stop all exceedances". Yet, Baxter is aware that an alternative option, that of connecting to the public sanitary sewer, would add a layer of accountability. Our regional public sanitary district would demand pre-treatment of the wastewater as well as hold Baxter accountable for their pharmaceutical wastewater prior to the wastewater even being treated at the public sanitary district facility.
Baxter continues to use their most economical option of operating their own sewage treatment plant, discharging to Long Lake, and not connecting to public sewer, as the residents and all other local businesses have done. Without proper accountability, the local residents and the quality of our waterways are paying the ultimate price!
As of January 2017, the IL Pollution Control Board has not yet closed this case, which was turned over to the IEPA for investigation in September 2016. The findings of the investigation will be sent to the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Illinois Pollution Control Board. We will be notified of the findings, and the Attorney General's Office has the authority to take legal action against Baxter if the Illinois Pollution Control Board identifies punishable misdeeds.