'Baby powder' smell leads to lawsuit against former East Dundee plastic bag company
Remember that odd, "baby powder" smell last year on the east side of the Fox River in East Dundee?
At the request of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Attorney General's office and the Kane County State's Attorney's office have sued an East Dundee plastic bag business, arguing it moved equipment into the old Haeger Pottery building in 2017 without a permit and discharged chemicals that residents complained smelled like baby powder.
The suit, filed in a Kane County court, seeks $250,000 in fines for five violations, including allegations Golden Plastics and its manager moved numerous pieces of equipment from its former location at 290 Illinois St. to the old Haeger Pottery building at 7 Maiden Lane.
From February 2017 through August 2017, residents living near the Haeger building complained about a "floral-like, baby powder, fabric-softener type odor" that caused people to experience nausea and migraines, according to the lawsuit.
Residents on Van Buren and Johnson streets, Fallbrook Drive, Hillside Lane and Williams Place all lodged complaints in 2017.
The lawsuit also seeks fines of $10,000 a day for ongoing violations at the plant. On the low end, the suit could be asking for $800,000 in fines from Feb. 14, 2017, when the EPA did an inspection, to May 4, 2017, the date that Golden Plastics applied for a permit. On the high end, fines could be $1.78 million if they are retroactive to Feb. 1, 2017, and run through July 28, 2017, the date in which the EPA issued a permit.
Golden Plastics, according to its website, ceased operations on Dec. 31, 2017.
The lawsuit also named Eugene Staples, the sole manager at Maiden Industrial, which is the new owner of the former Haegar building, as a defendant. Staples said he had not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment.
East Dundee Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said the village had worked with Golden Plastics and two other businesses in the Haegar building to resolve code violations and acquire proper permits.
An attorney representing Golden Plastics did not respond to a request for comment.
Johnsen said the village's code inspector smelled the odor last year.
"It was more than a smell, it was a residue," Johnsen said, noting that village board members were aware the Attorney General's Office had been investigating the matter.
The parties are due in Kane County court on Sept. 21.