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Proviso Probe

Monday, February 13, 2006

ENVIR, Whole Foods causes sewage back-up [FP]

The sewage under the Harlem viaduct and at the bus stop was from River Forest. Whole Foods had not been properly maintaining its grease traps and the grease clogged the sewage system.

I sent the following letter to Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino:
From at least last night until this morning raw sewage was backing up from the River Forest sewage system and following downhill under the Harlem viaduct to Forest Park. This morning there was enough raw sewage that pedestrians were being splashed by passing cars. The bus stop reeked oppressively.

From talking to Greg Kramer, the River Forest director of public works, I learned the proximate cause of the sewage backing up was Whole Foods failing to properly maintain its grease traps.

Kramer said that Whole Foods would not be fined or cited for this negligence. In fairness to Kramer, he did not seem to appreciate how much sewage was discharged into the street and how far it traveled.

However, Kramer’s statement that, “We’re satisfied that situation has resolved itself,” is unacceptable.

I happened to be walking by when the River Forest public works employees lifted one of the manhole covers. It takes an impressive amount of grease to foul a municipal sewage system.

I don’t know for certain, but my guess is that it would take months and months of negligence to accumulate that much grease.

I request the Village of Forest Park contact River Forest and politely ask our neighbors to the north to evaluate how much sewage was discharged and how it affected pedestrians and people waiting for the bus. I suspect that when River Forest understands how nasty the situation was, it will cite Whole Foods for the nuisance caused.

However, if River Forest fails to cite Whole Foods, I request Forest Park write a citation against Whole Foods. If an RV dumped its sewage into Forest Park streets the Village of Forest Park would cite the RV operator for creating a threat to public health. I don’t see a distinction between a negligent RV operator and a negligent grocery store, except that when the grocery store is negligent it’s a bigger problem.

Not to break into knee-jerk class warfare, but if that sewage was being splashed on River Forest single-family homeowners and their children something tells me Kramer would have driven the four blocks from his office to observe the actual conditions.

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