Baxter Healthcare is in hot water with Illinois authorities for releasing contaminated wastewater from its Round Lake, IL-based development facility into a tributary that flows into nearby Long Lake.
Lake County residents have been complaining about the issue for 15 years, according to a recent Chicago Tonight broadcast.
According to a lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, Deerfield, IL-based Baxter violated federal permits several times between January 2016 and May 2016 by releasing contaminated water that exceeded pollution limits. The discharge caused depleted oxygen levels in the water, which can have negative effects on aquatic life and the lake's ecosystem, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit asks Lake County Circuit Court to force Baxter to immediately stop discharging contaminants that exceed allowable limits and to pay a penalty for violating its federal permit.
Last year a group called Stop Pollution in Long Lake (SPILL) brought the attention to Baxter shareholders by protesting outside the company's annual shareholder meeting. When asked about the protesters, CEO Joe Almeida told investors that the company would address the residents' concerns by requesting permits to redirect the water into the public wastewater system instead of the lake.
"As a healthcare company that manufactures life-saving and life-sustaining products, Baxter strives to be a leader in environmental compliance both globally and in the communities in which we operate," said John O'Malley, a Baxter spokesperson, in a statement shared with MD+DI.
O'Malley said the company has implemented corrective and preventive actions to avoid recurrence of the issues raised in the complaint. He also noted that the company is "nearing completion" of the voluntary effort to connect its Round Lake facility to the public wastewater system.
"Once this connection is complete, wastewater from the facility will flow through the public sewer system to the Fox Lake wastewater treatment plant," he said.