Company must remove soil and groundwater pollution from Hartford refinery

Environmental regulators have ordered Apex Oil Company to cleanup extensive soil and groundwater contamination from its former refinery operations in Hartford, Illinois.

The operation is expected to cost at least $150m and follows Apex’s refusal to take part in an earlier cleanup order. In 2004 the other companies who contributed to contamination at the site, Shell Oil, Valero Energy, BP Amoco and Sinclair Oil, agreed to begin a cleanup.

The Justice Department filed suit against Apex Oil in 2005 after the company refused to assist with that cleanup effort.

The soil and groundwater beneath Hartford had been contaminated with more than 1m gallons of oil from refinery and pipeline leaks and spills. For years, Hartford residents were forced to evacuate when vapors emanating from the contamination seeped into homes and public buildings.

The court ruled that Apex Oil was responsible for multiple leaks and spills that contributed to the contamination.

The cleanup plan will include the installation of liquid and vapor extraction systems to remove and treat contamination.

Ronald Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department, said: ‘[The court ruling] requires a major polluter to clean up the mess it made, and dedicated professionals from EPA will oversee the project.’

Although the other oil companies that contributed to the contamination were not named as defendants in this case, the judge's ruling does not relieve them of their joint responsibility.