A massive cleanup is underway to remove pollution and thousands of fish killed due to contamination of a lake at the Sun City retirement community in Huntley, officials said.
The contamination was the result of a July 25 accident in which a semitrailer caught fire on westbound Interstate 90 near Huntley, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Kim Biggs said.
The truck contained concrete hardener -- no hazardous materials -- that mixed in with the water used to put out the fire.
"It made its way into the roadside ditches, which then continued onto the Kishwaukee River," Biggs said.
The pollutants spread along a stretch of the south fork of the Kishwaukee River and adjacent wetlands, as well as Wildflower Lake, situated in the heart of Sun City downstream from the river, she added.
A Sun City Community Association representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The IEPA has issued a violation notice against the Canadian truck company -- Trappers Transport of Manitoba -- responsible for the accident. The company could be fined and be required to pay damages, including restocking the fish killed in Wildflower Lake, a catch and release pond, Biggs said.
Roughly 700 tons of contaminated soil has been removed from Wildflower Lake and surrounding areas, and 300,000 gallons of water have been removed from the lake.
"Their insurance company hired the environmental contractor who is doing the cleanup," Biggs said. "They had already taken the responsibility before we issued the violation notice against them."
Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials are sorting through 15, 55-gallon drums of dead fish to identify the species.
"As part of the agreement we are working on with the company, they will pay to restock the fish," Biggs said.
Officials with the Sun City association tested oxygen levels at the lake, which has been closed since the fish were found dead Aug. 5. It won't be cleared to reopen until the IEPA receives the results of concrete samples "to determine what was actually in there," Biggs said.
"The oxygen levels are back to normal," Biggs said. "We are still awaiting final results on the samples of water from the lake and the area that was contained where we believe that contamination had occurred."
The lake water also supplies the sprinkler system for the community and has been shut off.
Biggs said residents need not be concerned about touching the water, which could cause minor irritation but should do no long-term harm.