A formal complaint was filed Jan. 19 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers against Branko Vardijan, of Joliet Land Company — formerly Sheridan Sand and Gravel, with the Watersheds & Wetlands Branch of the federal EPA.
The case of two clean construction or demolition debris (CCDD) landfills in Sheridan, owned by Vardijan, was sent to the federal level for evaluation into possible violations into the Clean Water Act, according to documents.
While the act doesn’t directly address groundwater contamination, it is the federal law that governs water pollution.
The two sites, 105 S. Weinsland and 2672 W. 4201st Road, along the Fox River, have had violations from Illinois EPA inspectors over the years. Violations range from unfiled required administrative paperwork and truck loads found to be contaminated with barium, calcium, chromium, copper, cobalt, iron, lead and zinc to solvents found on the property, along with wells located on the properties, a contradiction to what Vardijan told the Illlinois EPA during an interview.
According to Peter Swensen, chief of the federal EPA Watersheds & Wetlands Branch, the investigation is an ongoing situation.
“Currently, we are still reviewing the file,” Swensen said, “so we haven’t made any decision on any follow up at this point. So, really, that’s about all I can say about the investigation at this point.”
Guardian Tax IL LLC, located in Nebraska, is now the owner of the properties. Guardian paid the delinquent 2015 and 2016 tax amount March 12. But according to the Illinois EPA, the sale of the property for past taxes has no bearing on liability for possible citations. The liability stays with the owner/operator of the facility when violations occurred.
Wetlands and discharge
A Feb. 15 notice letter from the Army Corps of Engineers asked Vardijan to stop all activity at the facilities because of the ongoing investigation. In the letter, he was informed if the business continued to be operational, he could be fined up to $37,500 per day.
According to the letter, there are photos from July 23 and Sept. 24, 2015, and Jan. 9, 2018, appearing to show discharge from the facilities flowing into wetlands and the back water of Roots Creek.
Vardijan did not return calls for comment.