University, contractors will pay damages from toxic discharge

By Susan Kantor

U.S. Attorney Rodger A. Heaton, Central District of Illinois, announced details on Wednesday of a settlement resulting from a 2002 fish kill along the Saline Branch Drainage Ditch and Salt Fork of the Vermillion River.

The University, the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District and CEDA, Inc., a University contractor, admitted no liability and denied the allegations in the settlement filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana. The three agreed to pay $491,000 for natural resources restoration projects to benefit wildlife in the Saline Branch and Salt Fork.

Toxic wastewater was discharged to the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District’s sewer system by the University and CEDA as a result of boiler cleaning operations at Abbott Power Plant. The partially treated water containing ammonia was then released to the Saline Branch Drainage Ditch in Urbana. Nearly 10 miles of the ditch and approximately 32.4 miles of the Salt Fork of the Vermillion River were damaged by the wastewater, killing approximately 100,000 fish.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and can be viewed at