Baxter CEO says no more Dumping Wastewater into Long Lake in Response to Picket by Long Lake Community!
On the morning of May 2nd, SPILL and Long Lake homeowners braved the weather to picket in front of Baxter's Headquarters in Deerfield the day of Baxter's Annual Stockholder's Meeting. Among many concerns, the picket called attention to Baxter's long overdue promise to hookup to the public sewer. Read Press Release for Baxter Picket.
A media reporter contacted SPILL for comment immediately following the Stockholder's Meeting in response to a stockholder's inquiry directed at Baxter's CEO, Jose Almeida, about the picketing that they, and all stockholders, witnessed on their drive into the meeting. Baxter's CEO responded by saying that some Long Lake residents "don't like the fact that we do discharge the clean water into the lake". What Mr. Almeida refers to as "clean water" is, in fact, chemically treated wastewater comprised of human, industrial, and pharmaceutical production discharge. Baxter's CEO went on record to say that Baxter's discharge will be redirected to the public sewer system. Thanks to the Long Lake picketers who forced the CEO to publicly commit to a public sewer connection!
It's Not Over Yet... Baxter has avoided connecting to the public sewer for far too long. In 2001, Baxter promised to discontinue dumping chemically treated wastewater into Long Lake through the use of land irrigation. Baxter released a press release touting their commitment to "discontinue its discharge to Long Lake" and instead use Baxter's chemically treated wastewater to irrigate land for the planting of nursery stock.
Baxter was granted an IEPA Land Application Permit 14 years ago to perform the land irrigation. But, Baxter broke its promise to Long Lake and never performed any land irrigation over the 14 years it has retained the permit (except for a few months in 2005). Further, Baxter never informed the Long Lake residents that they had no intention of following up on their promise to stop using land irrigation. Long Lake has been waiting for a signed connection agreement for a public sewer hookup for over 15 years. Baxter began the process of meeting with public agencies in an effort to obtain a connection over 5 months ago. But, these efforts were derailed for months because Baxter was requesting a waiver for connection fees in the millions, financing that would have been funded by taxpayers. Until we see a signed connection agreement and the necessary construction starts, we are cautiously optimistic.
We'd like to acknowledge all of the Baxter connection supporters and to all those who wrote letters to the IEPA along the way, those who helped us disseminate the valuable information and the press who helped spread the message (especially the Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune). And thank you to the IEPA for standing up for clean water by refusing to settle with Baxter regarding their 2016 permit violations. Our message is clear: Baxter's promise to connect to the public sewer is long overdue. Long Lake homeowners and residents will not tolerate this any longer.