Former Hartford refinery owner to pay $10 million for cleanup

The former owner of a Madison County oil refinery will pay $10 million to help the cleanup of the Hartford facility it vacated in 1988.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the settlement with former owner Apex Oil Co. Wednesday. Apex is based in Clayton, Mo., and ran the plant for more than 20 years.

Madigan said in a press release that the state will continue to press for cleanup funds from the current facility owner, Premcor Refining Group Inc., based in Connecticut, which she said had opposed the settlement with Apex.

“This settlement is an important step in a long legal process to ensure that the land and water contaminated by spills from this refinery are cleaned up,” Madigan said. “My office will continue our work to hold the current refinery owner accountable for its role in causing the environmental damage to the site and impacting the nearby Hartford community.”

Madigan’s lawsuit claimed that gasoline and other petroleum products spilled and leaked from the refinery into the land and groundwater during the ownership of both companies.

Residents is communities surrounding refineries have long claimed health problems and property losses due to contamination from pipeline leaks that allegedly affected land and water quality in the region.

The settlement money will be administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean the site during the pending lawsuit against Premcor. The $10 million from Apex will be placed into a trust fund established to support cleanup and remediation activities resulting from refinery and pipeline pollution.

Premcor, meanwhile, moved for partial summary judgment against the state of Illinois and Apex in order to avoid legal responsibility for the full cleanup, an action which was denied, said Madigan.

The village of Hartford sued several oil refineries, including Premcor, in 2008, seeking damages for declining property values it blames on the contamination.