(Cherry Valley, Illinois – June 21, 2012)
Although railroad officials earlier this year admitted liability for a June 19, 2009 derailment which killed a pregnant woman and her unborn fetus and seriously injured nine others, all of whom were waiting for the train to pass a grade crossing, Canadian National Railroad seems to be telling the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to “Go Fish” when asked to pay for restocking of two rivers into which residue from the derailment and massive ethanol spill, allegedly killed more than 72,000 fish along a 54-mile stretch of the Rock and Kishwaukee Rivers between the Rockford, IL and Prophetstown, IL.
A complaint filed by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in Winnebago County Court stems from the fact that an Illinois Conservation Police Officer familiar with ethanol “smelled a a strong, sweet odor coming from the water” as he investigated the fish kill. Thus, the State claims that the ethanol spilled into a creek at the site of the derailment which feeds the two rivers in question, and “reduced the oxygen levels in the river and suffocated the fish,” as well as “reduced food supplies, lowered the water quality, reduced the breeding population and left remaining wildlife less able to respond to adverse conditions.”
In the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the tragedy, numerous errors by CN were listed as causal factors for the tragic derailment, and the railroad settled claims by the family of the deceased earlier this year, but “is still negotiating” with the State in regard to the fish kill according to Illinois Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Van Wie Thursday.