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Illinois Attorney General files lawsuit against company over Edwardsville oil spill

An arial photograph showing of a greenish-brown Cahokia Creek with streaks of black oil in it and along its banks.
Brian Popp
An Edwardsville pipeline operated by energy company Marathon Pipe Line leaked oil on March 11, some of which flowed into Cahokia Creek. A resident captured this image of the creek with a drone camera.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced Friday that his office has filed a lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court against Marathon Pipe Line, the energy company whose oil pipeline leaked in Edwardsville.

The lawsuit comes one week after the pipeline spilled an estimated 163,800 gallons of crude oil into the soil and water near the intersection of Illinois 143 and Illinois 159, including in Cahokia Creek, according to the latest state estimates. Raoul’s announcement stated that the spill also killed at least 10 animals.

The lawsuit is seeking to require “corrective action” and payment of civil penalties, alleging violations of environmental regulations. It also seeks a reimbursement to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the cost of its response to the oil spill.

“Marathon’s significant oil spill has created a public health risk by exposing the community to heavy crude oil,” Raoul said Friday. “The spill has also severely harmed the environment — including wildlife, surrounding wetlands and waterways. The long-lasting impact of this oil spill could be detrimental if not properly and quickly remediated.

“I am committed to ensuring that Marathon is held accountable for the damage it has already done and preventing it from causing further harm to the public’s health and the environment.”

The spill in Edwardsville happened because of equipment failure, according to Raoul’s announcement, which cited reports from Marathon.

The Illinois EPA had asked the Illinois Attorney General’s office on March 11, the day of the spill, to bring “enforcement action” against Marathon.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office is also suing Marathon in northeastern Illinois’ Iroquois County over a 2021 gasoline pipeline spill at the request of the Illinois EPA.

Marathon previously said it does not comment on pending litigation when reached about the Iroquois County lawsuit.

The company has said in public statements that oil cleanup started March 11. The Illinois EPA also said March 11 that the oil was contained in Edwardsville’s Cahokia Creek, which flows into the Mississippi River.

Lexi Cortes is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Lexi Cortes is an investigative reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.