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IEPA takes action against Cortland mobile home park

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:45 a.m. CDT

CORTLAND – The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has referred the Cortland MHC mobile home park to the Illinois Attorney General's office over untreated sewage pumped onto the ground, affecting a neighboring cemetery and veterinarian's office.

The environmental agency wants a judge to order the owners of the Cortland MHC mobile home park to immediately clean up untreated sewage and repair its septic system to prevent future environmental violations, agency officials announced Wednesday.

The enforcement action names Zeman Homes, the company that runs the mobile home park outside of Cortland at 300 S. Somonauk Road, according to a news release. Zeman Homes CEO Dee Pizer did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

An inspector on Tuesday took samples from a well near the Cortland Animal Hospital, which is west of the mobile home park, to determine if there was any water contamination, but the results were not available Wednesday, Illinois EPA Spokeswoman Kim Biggs said.

The agency is seeking a court order to have Zeman repair and evaluate its septic system for proper operation and to properly remove and dispose of any remaining sewage on the ground and ditches.

“We want to make sure there isn't any additional pumping going on or any additional discharge,” Biggs said, adding she did not know what fines could be assessed against Zeman.

An environmental agency inspector noted multiple violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations related to discharging sewage when he visited the park and neighboring properties on Tuesday, officials said.

The DeKalb County Health Department received an anonymous tip on Friday that raw sewage was leaking into the cemetery. Local health department officials found a large tank with a system that was pumping raw sewage from a backed-up septic tank onto the ground. DeKalb County Health Department officials believe the system dumped several thousand gallons of sewage onto the ground.

When environmental officials inspected the site, the pumping system had been removed, Biggs said. The inspector found visible sewage and tracks that led to the Mound Rest Cemetery to the east of the park, the Cortland Animal Hospital to the west and the ditch along Route 38 to the south.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is also investigating the incident because it is the agency responsible for licensing the park. According to IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold, the park was licensed in May 7, 2013, and has not been cited for any major violations in the past.

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