BELLEVILLE — A state agency has accused a Granite City company of violating the Illinois environmental protection act by allowing lead emissions near its facility to increase.
Mayco Manufacturing, LLC, also known as Mayco Industries, operates a lead melting and refining facility at 1200 16th St. in Granite City.
On Monday, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency referred Mayco to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, charging it did not follow agency requirements or Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations, a news release from the Illinois EPA stated.
In response to the Illinois EPA, Mayco released a statement saying it was working with the agency and others to investigate and resolve the issues at the Granite City location, where the company voluntarily halted operations on Nov. 19.
"Mayco values the health, safety and well-being of its employees and the community in which it operates," the company statement said. "We are working diligently to safely resume operations at the plant and return our employees to work so that they can continue to provide for their families and be productive members in the community."
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Beginning in October 2018, monthly lead emission averages began increasing at a monitor three-tenths of a mile from Mayco's facility, according to the Illinois EPA news release. The concentration of the lead emissions was the highest it had been in nearly six years, indicating that the elevated readings were from a source in the area, the release states.
The agency continued to monitor the lead emissions and, in early 2019, recorded levels near or above the National Ambient Air Quality Standard. A release from the Illinois EPA stated that Mayco was the likely source.
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are put in place by the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Act and are periodically reviewed by state agencies. Lead is considered harmful to public health and the environment.
"You don't want to be consuming lead," said Kim Biggs, a spokeswoman for Illinois EPA. "There's always a concern when it comes to lead, whether that's in the air, water, soil... That's why we have limits."
On Aug. 8, following an investigation, the Illinois EPA issued a violation notice to Mayco and had uncovered several other areas of noncompliance during testing, the release stated. Biggs could not identify the other areas of noncompliance on Tuesday.
Though Mayco has halted its refining operations, the Illinois EPA said that it "has not committed to fully address all identified concerns prior to restarting operations."
Biggs confirmed that the attorney general's office has been in contact with the Illinois EPA and is reviewing the complaint against Mayco.