State suing Barrington Mobil station that leaked gas

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing the owner and operator of a downtown Barrington gas station accused of leaking gasoline into surrounding soil, groundwater and village sewers last month.

The suit, filed against Shri Balaji Inc., owner of the Mobil station at 504 E. Main St., stems from a leak discovered Jan. 25 after nearby residents complained of gasoline odors in their homes.

"This action will ensure that the gasoline contamination is investigated and remediated because our first concern is the health and well-being of the community," Madigan said in a statement released Thursday.

Madigan's lawsuit also seeks a penalty of $50,000 for each violation and $10,000 for each day of violation. The suit follows a statement last month by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which said Shri Balaji Inc. will be on the hook for the costs of cleaning the spill and all future remediation.

A preliminary injunction issued by a Lake County judge as part of the court filing requires Shri Balaji Inc. to determine the cause of the leak and to evaluate the extent of the contamination in the soil and groundwater. The defendant also is required to conduct regular sampling and monitoring, and to report results to the IEPA and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The president of Shri Balaji Inc. did not respond to an email seeking comment.

According to officials, the leak started on the station's leak detection system as many as five to six weeks before its discovery. Although it is not yet known how much gasoline leaked, Greg Summers, director of development services for Barrington, said cleanup crews vacuumed about 12,500 gallons of a fuel and groundwater mixture in the first two days after it was discovered.

Officials say the leak did not threaten the village's water supply.

Summers said the gasoline likely left solid particulates and thick oil behind. Within the last week, workers from Tricore, a Naperville-based environmental contractor paid by the gas station, began removing gasoline vapors from the ground by sucking up underground air with a vacuum pump, filtering the air, and releasing it into the atmosphere, Summers said. He said the crew's equipment will be running continuously until no more vapor is detected, which could take weeks.

The case is scheduled to return to court April 14 for a status conference.