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Crestwood, Illinois Well Water


  • April 18, 2009; A Chicago Tribune investigation reports city officials in Crestwood, Illinois were told 22 years ago that a well used to supply drinking water to roughly 11,000 residents contained perchloroethylene, or PCE, a dry-cleaning solvent linked to cancer, liver damage and neurological problems.



Illinois governor signs bill to prevent future Crestwood-type water contamination problems

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Sunday that he says will help ensure Illinois citizens have safe, clean drinking water. The bill is designed to prevent future incidents like the water contamination discovered earlier this year in south suburban Crestwood, Ill. For years, Crestwood village officials told townspeople that all their water came from Lake Michigan exclusively, when records showed that Crestwood was co-mingling its lake water with water from a village well that had shown levels of a known carcinogen. The governor has signed a law that will require water suppliers to notify all their customers if tests reveal any contamination with their water supply. In Crestwood's case, the EPA had long ago told the village that the well in question had problems, but Crestwood didn't tell residents. Under the new law, water suppliers have five days to notify all of their customers of any problems. WLS_ 8/23/09

Illinois sues town of Crestwood and three former and current officials over use of a contaminated drinking water well

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today sued the community of Crestwood, a former mayor, his son, who is the current mayor, and the operator of the town's water system for secretly supplying residents with drinking water from a contaminated water well. Already facing a federal criminal investigation, Crestwood Mayor Robert Stranczek and his father, Chester, who led Crestwood from 1969 to 2007, were accused of repeatedly lying about their secret use of a community well contaminated with two cancer-causing chemicals, dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride, which is so toxic the U.S. EPA says there is no safe level of exposure. The 58-page civil complaintcivil law suit alleges the Stranczeks and Scaccia collectively lied more than 120 times about Crestwood's polluted well, which they continued to use routinely even after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency told the village in 1986 that it was contaminated. Chicago Tribune_ 6/9/09

Bill pending in Illinois Legislature requires notification of contaminated drinking water

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today applauded the General Assembly’s passage of legislation that requires prompt notification to all users when drinking water is contaminated. Madigan worked with Governor Quinn and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to draft House Bill 4021, which amends the Illinois Right to Know law. The legislation was developed in response to recent revelations that the Village of Crestwood had been supplementing the town’s water supply with water from a well found to be contaminated more than 20 years ago. The Shopper Online_ 6/9/09

Wrongful-death lawsuit filed over Crestwood, Illinois water

The widow of John Maan De Kok, a Crestwood man, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the village and former mayor Chester Stranczek, claiming her husband developed lymphoma after drinking the village's contaminated water for years. Four class-action negligence lawsuits have been filed against Crestwood and its current and former officials regarding the water controversy, but Michelle Maan De Kok's suit is the first to alleged wrongful death due to the contaminated water, her attorney said. Sun-Times_ 5/15/09

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin urges U.S. health experts to study whether anyone got sick from drinking Crestwood's polluted well water

Since the Chicago Tribune first revealed that Crestwood residents unknowingly drank contaminated water for more than two decades, scores of people have asked if their chronic, low-level exposure to toxic chemicals contributed to any diseases or illnesses. Durbin, a Democrat and the Senate's assistant majority leader, sent a letter this week to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that nudges federal and state health officials to at least attempt to answer those difficult questions. Federal authorities already are conducting a criminal investigation. The disease registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often works with the EPA and state agencies to assess health threats related to polluted sites. Chicago Tribune_ 5/6/09

Scandalous arrest, grudge and unlikely tip led to Crestwood, Illinois water revelation

Crestwood's secret use of a tainted well might not have come to light were it not for a widely publicized and unrelated incident in which village police charged a mother with child endangerment. The charges were dropped but to say her husband Tim Janecyk was upset by Crestwood's handling of the incident would be an understatement. He wanted an apology, straight from Mayor Robert Stranczek. When he didn't get one, he set out to find some dirt on the village. "I saw a people willing to perpetrate a great injustice," he said of Crestwood officials. "And I followed a trail to an even greater injustice." Southtown Star_ 5/3/09

Third law suit filed against Crestwood, Illinois over possibly tainted drinking water

The class-action suit was filed Friday by former Crestwood resident Diana Delarosa. She lost four family members to diseases possibly linked to allegedly contaminated water. WLS_ 5/2/09

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agents raid Crestwood, Illinois offices in water probe

More than a dozen agents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raided government offices in south suburban Crestwood this morning, 10 days after a Chicago Tribune investigation found that the village cut corners and knowingly supplied its residents with contaminated well water for two decades. The investigators from the Environmental Criminal Division of the EPA raided Crestwood Village Hall and then the town's public works department. Randall Ashe, special agent in charge, said the team is looking for evidence of environmental crimes. Mayor Robert Stranczek made a one-line statement about 12:35 p.m. Standing on the front steps of village hall, he said: "Right now our drinking water is 100 percent safe and the village doesn't believe there was anything wrong with it prior to this." As a horde of media shouted questions, the mayor returned to his offices. Chicago Tribune_ 4/29/09

Chicago Tribune Investigation:

Crestwood, Illinois officials cut corners and supplied residents with tainted water for two decades

For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, a Tribune investigation found. As village officials were building a national reputation for pinching pennies, and sending out fliers proclaiming Crestwood water was "Good to taste but not to waste!," state and village records obtained by the newspaper show they secretly were drawing water from a contaminated well, apparently to save money. Officials kept using the well even though state environmental officials told them at least 22 years ago that two chemicals related to perchloroethylene, or PCE, a dry-cleaning solvent linked to cancer, liver damage and neurological problems, had oozed into the water, records show. Chicago Tribune_ 4/18/09



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