ESL school board president sues Illinois Power claiming PCBs entered property

Kelly Holleran Dec. 20, 2011, 11:00am


East St. Louis school board President Lonzo Greenwood has filed a lawsuit against Illinois Power Co. and a natural gas supplier, alleging they allowed carcinogens to contaminate his property.

Greenwood claims he discovered the existence of polychlorinated biphenyls in the soil surrounding his home's natural gas meter and in his furnace. PCBs can lead to a variety of medical problems, such as liver disease, irregular menstrual cycles, lowered immune responses, fatigue, headaches, unusual skin sores, poor cognitive development, birth defects and various types of cancer, according to the complaint filed Dec. 13 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

He will be represented by Christopher Cueto and Michael Gras of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville.

Greenwood, who lives at 2920 Jefferson St. in East St. Louis, claims he first learned of the PCBs on his property after Illinois Power and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests on his property in August 2007.

Because of his contaminated land, Greenwood alleges he is no longer able to enjoy it.

He blames defendants Illinois Power and the Mississippi River Transmission Company for allowing the PCBs to infiltrate his soil.

The PCBs arrived to Greenwood's home through natural gas, which Illinois Power distributed, according to the complaint. Mississippi River Transmission Company delivered that same natural gas to Illinois Power through pipelines outside Illinois, the suit states.

Greenwood alleges negligence, nuisance and trespass to land against the defendants.

In his complaint, he is seeking a judgment of more than $300,000, plus costs.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-678.

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