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updated: 1/31/2014 6:25 PM

Landfill ordered to take steps to prevent leaks

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Associated Press

DEKALB, Ill. -- A court ordered a northern Illinois landfill where strong-smelling gases leaked and blew to a nearby school to take steps to ensure similar leaks don't happen again, the state attorney general's office announced Friday.

A DeKalb County judge this week ordered Waste Management of Illinois Inc. to, among other things, install a weather station to continuously report wind and other conditions at the site to state environmental authorities.

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The Jan. 14 leak, caused when a contractor dug into a section of decomposing garbage, sent a heavy odor toward Cortland Elementary, sickening dozens of students and teachers, the attorney general's office said.

"We sought this court order to prevent future incidents like this that endanger the health of everyone near the landfill," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement released by her office.

Waste Management spokeswoman Lisa Disbrow said the company accepts responsibility for the "isolated incident" and that it otherwise had an "excellent environmental record." She added the company had agreed in advance to the provisions in the judge's order.

"We will take all the necessary steps to ensure that an incident of this nature does not take place again," she said.

Madigan's office also filed a related lawsuit on Thursday against Waste Management, alleging violations of environmental laws. Disbrow said Waste Management was reviewing it, but she declined to comment further.

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