Baxter is delaying and offering no solutions in the same manner that they did over 15 years ago!
Baxter contacted the LLISA Board of Directors, and 5 of their board members met with them. This is identical to the strategy that Baxter employed back in 2001! During NPDES permit renewal period in 2001, in order to avoid the pressure and the unknown legal outcomes of a Public Hearing, Baxter appeased opposition to this permit renewal by scheduling meetings with the LLISA Board and proposing a "public meeting." A "Public Meeting" is NOT the same as a PUBLIC HEARING. Meetings, such as ones between Baxter and the LLISA Board, or even a "public meeting" can include the sharing of opinions, information, and/or stances. However, any agreements resulting from such meetings are not legally binding. By holding these types of meetings, Baxter positions themselves to report to the IEPA those affected by Baxter's treatment plant have been satisfied. This can mislead the IEPA into believing that the corporation has addressed the concerns of all stakeholders.
In 2002, after meetings with the LLISA Board, Baxter agreed to work toward discontinuation of the wastewater flowing into Squaw Creek, by doing LAND APPLICATION as a stop gap until the time at which the public sewer lines would be close enough to connect. YET, while they applied for the land application permit and did minimal irrigation for a short period of time (sporadically in 2004-05), they ended all land application in 2005, without notifying the LLISA Board that they were no longer fulfilling their promise.
Now Baxter has the audacity to contact the new LLISA Board, that did not personally experience the previous deceptions. The five board members met with Arthur Gibson, Baxter's VP of Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability. Baxter did not invite any other groups or individuals identified as stakeholders by the IEPA during this NPDES permit renewal issue! As they tried in 2001, Baxter is trying to find a group with a sympathetic ear to appease with their invitation for a friendly discussion over coffee and cookies. However, Baxter needs to realize that we are not impressed with their meaningless overtures. While homeowners who belong to the LLISA are one group of stakeholders in this issue, they are certainly not the only ones. ALL of our voices and our concerns regarding the Baxter wastewater flowing into our watershed should be answered. Stop Pollution in Long Lake (SPILL) is actively making sure that others across our watershed and across our state are fighting with us. We also have the support of the Friends of the Fox River, the Prairie Rivers Network, and the Sierra Club. All of us recognize the importance of standing up for clean water, and we must make our presence known! Baxter does not have only LLISA fighting them this time around!
Ironically, per the LLISA's report of their meeting (as recapped in an email on 11/17/16), "...Baxter traced the spike in biological oxygen demand to the processing of returned products of solutions containing dextrose," which indicates that they were in fact disposing of the recalled products through their wastewater treatment facility. We expect that the IL Pollution Control Board will find the confirmation of this pollution through the IEPA investigation underway per our filed complaint.
Fortunately, we have several groups standing in agreement that Baxter's NPDES permit should be ended and Baxter should connect to the public sanitary sewer. Per the LLISA's report of their meeting with Baxter, Baxter outlined their three choices as: 1. Substantial upgrade and improvement of the current system 2. Installation of a new, state-of-the-art treatment system 3. Connection to the public sewer system
We reject the idea that only one of these is the solution. Rather, first, Baxter should recognize that absolutely their Round Lake Facility needs to be connected to the public sanitary sewer. And second, while the connection to the public sanitary sewer will end the practice of sending the discharge into Squaw Creek, our regional waste water treatment facility will undoubtedly require pretreatment of this pharmaceutical waste before it leaves the Baxter facility. Therefore, of course, they should also be looking at maintaining and improving their own wastewater treatment facilities in order to meet the standards established by the regional facility. They are producing pharmaceutical products and therefore their industrial waste discharge must be treated and processed in specific ways in order to protect our entire Fox River Watershed!