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Our View: Sewage situation disgusts

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 9:12 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 11:01 p.m. CDT

Our reaction when we read the news story about raw sewage from the Cortland MHC mobile home park being pumped out onto the ground was probably the same as yours: How disgusting.

It’s disgusting in the sense that we’re talking about raw sewage, of course.

The disregard shown for public health, the park’s neighbors and the environment is disgusting as well.

DeKalb County Health Department officials estimated that several thousand gallons of untreated waste were pumped from a storage tank onto the ground before anything was done. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials said it contaminated a nearby ditch, the Cortland Animal Hospital property, and the Mound Rest Cemetery.

Inspectors from the IEPA visited the park at 300 S. Somonauk Road near Route 38 last week and found multiple violations of state environmental protection and pollution control laws, agency officials said. The park is not within the limits of the Town of Cortland.

So who signed off on this plan to dump raw sewage into the environment? How could any responsible person have thought this was the way to solve a problem with a septic tank?

Officials at Zeman Homes, which operates the park, should be able to answer those questions, but they have been conspicuously silent. Attempts to contact Dee Pizer, the CEO of Zeman, have been unsuccessful.

At a minimum, Pizer or her company ought to apologize to residents of the park, to the people whose loved ones are buried at the cemetery, or who work at or visit the animal hospital. That’s what responsible companies do when they make mistakes that affect their neighbors or customers.

The IEPA has referred the matter to the Illinois Attorney General’s office. IEPA wants in a judge to order Zeman to immediately clean up untreated sewage and repair its septic system to prevent future environmental violations.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is also investigating the incident because it is the agency responsible for licensing the park.

Zeman might not want to speak publicly, but they can and should be held accountable by the justice system and state regulators. We hope those reviewing the case will take into account that the raw sewage discharge was reported not by the company but by a member of the public, after the sewage discharge had gone on for some time.

Had no one made a phone call, sewage might still be spewing into the environment, and the consequences could have been more serious. 

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