South Elgin, Ill. – DNR biologists and state environmental
officials spent several days this month looking at a case of
illegal dumping of an acid-based chemical that caused a fish kill
in parts of the Fox River.
Two employees of a recycling business were questioned, but as
this issue of Illinois Outdoor News went to press, no charges had
The chemicals affected a tributary of the Fox, along with
streams that connect to the river. Several landowners near the
river reported dead fish, frogs and other wildlife over a three-day
DNR was looking at what and how much was dumped, and it will
examine the effects of that dumping on the creek and its wildlife,
agency spokeswoman Januari Smith said. She added that preliminary
reports indicate the chemicals were contained within the tributary
and did not reach the main river.
The two men were taken into custody for questioning May 15 after
police found them dumping a substance into a storm sewer. The
chemicals then leaked into a retention pond on the property and
flowed into the creek, according to DNR.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency joined
DNR’s investigation, IEPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said.
Carson did not identify the type of chemical that was dumped,
but said it can immediately causes harm to wildlife, which led to
the deaths of spawning carp and other fish. The chemical becomes
more diluted as it goes downstream and becomes harmless, she
“We’ve got a lot of water [in the Fox River and its tributaries]
now that increases the dilution,” she said.
IEPA investigators are not sure how much of an area was
affected, she said. That will be a conclusion in the final
According to a report by the South Elgin police, they received a
911 call around 5:30 p.m. on May 15. Firefighters also responded to
the scene, a retention pond that connects to the tributary.
Darrell Pittman and his family, who live across the street, told
the Elgin Courier-News that his children and neighbor Ben Culos
were watching the fish that evening when they saw what Pittman
described as “suds” in the water.
The fish started dying a few minutes later, he said.
Authorities told the residents that the fish in their pond may
be affected and warned them not to let pets near the stream or
South Elgin firefighters responded to the report, categorized as
hazardous material in a tributary of the river.
A barrier was placed between the creek and the Fox River to
contain the chemicals.
Carson said dumping chemicals into waterways or land is a
violation of the Environmental Protection Act – and it happens “all