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Cicero company pleads guilty to illegal dumping, faces $1.5 million fine

Updated: December 15, 2013 11:45AM

As a major parts supplier to the wind turbine industry, Brad Foote Gear Works presented itself as part of the green energy revolution.

But behind closed doors, the Cicero manufacturer wasn’t so environmentally friendly. For years it secretly and illegally dumped huge amounts of toxic chemical waste straight into the sewers, it admitted Wednesday in federal court.

Under a plea deal that requires it to pay a $1.5 million fine, the company admitted that between 2007 and 2011 it broke the Clean Water Act when it repeatedly discharged acid, alkaline and metal-bearing wastewater, industrial rinse waters, acidic solutions, oil and grease into sewers which ultimately fed into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Emails between managers at the 1309 South Cicero Ave. business included in court documents showed they were aware of the problems but failed to act.

One boss who raised concerns and suggested contacting the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 was told “That’s not done — you don’t invite the EPA into your plant,” according to the plea deal.

Even after the company’s plant manager in 2008 warned that the illegal practice had likely “already dissolved most of the sewer system under our building,” the company did nothing to fix the problem, the plea deal states.

But following a 2011 raid, Brad Foote executives began cooperating and installed new equipment to clean up their waste, the feds say.

Sentencing is scheduled for February.


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