Barrington and Lake Zurich are demanding in a federal lawsuit that a Canadian trucking firm replace firefighting equipment they say was ruined during a cleanup of a hazardous chemical -- originally portrayed as vegetable oil -- that spilled after a fiery crash last year.
Westbound Northwest Highway near Hart Road in Barrington was closed for three days while hazardous materials crews cleaned the area after a Xan Systems Inc. semitrailer truck rear-ended a pickup truck March 7, causing the chemical spill. Commuters encountered delays and detours to accommodate the cleanup.
Initially filed in Lake County, the suit by Barrington and Lake Zurich against Ontario-based Xan Systems and the truck's driver was transferred Monday to U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Barrington and Lake Zurich seek more than $75,000 in damages to cover the equipment and cleanup costs.
Truck driver Stanislaw Kacki initially reported the substance that spilled was vegetable oil, authorities say. Several hours later Xan Systems told officials it was the hazardous chemical methylene diphenyl diisocycanate, according to the lawsuit.
The Barrington and Lake Zurich firefighters who worked the scene did not wear protective gear under belief they were handling vegetable oil, court documents say.
"As a direct and proximate result of the gear and equipment exposure to methylene diphenyl diisocycanate, the gear and equipment were rendered unusable and without value," according to the lawsuit.
Lawyers representing Xan Systems and Kacki, an Ontario resident, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
Much of the cleanup focused on the shoulder of westbound Northwest Highway between Hart Road and The Foundry of Barrington shopping center entrance. Barrington officials said a large swath of grassy area was excavated by cleanup crews.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency representatives said there was no risk to the water supply or public. Nearby stores remained open during the cleanup.