U.S. Attorney’s Office settles lawsuit with Chicago auto dealership over alleged pollution in Chicago River

Published Sept. 29, 2020
Chicago River

Chicago River

Chicago River

Chicago River

Sept. 23, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced that it reached a settlement with a Chicago auto dealership to resolve claims that it discharged pollutants into the Chicago River and created a hazardous obstruction to navigation.  

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court in Chicago on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alleging that JOSEPH J. PERILLO and PERILLO BMW INC. violated the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act by unlawfully placing an obstruction in the North Branch of the Chicago River.  The suit claimed that Perillo and his company allowed a steel river wall to collapse into the river in October 2018 and subsequently cut off the wall at the water level, leading to a discharge of pollutants into the river and creating a hazardous obstruction to navigation.

Under the terms of a consent decree, Perillo and his company denied liability but agreed to pay a civil penalty of $80,000 to the U.S. government.  In addition, Perillo and his company agreed to remove the collapsed wall from the river and construct a safe replacement.  The wall is located on land they own at the descending bank of the river, in the 1300 block of North Branch Street on Goose Island in Chicago.

The consent decree was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  The investigation was led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with collaboration from the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago; U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; City of Chicago Transportation Department; City of Chicago Public Health Department; Chicago Police Department; and the North Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Corps of Engineers’ Regulatory Program is committed to protecting the nation’s aquatic resources and navigation capacity, while allowing reasonable development through fair and balanced decisions.  Part of this mission includes bringing enforcement actions when regulated actions are taken without a permit, as occurred in this case.  Alleged violators are given an opportunity to remedy these violations, and if that is not successful, the Corps of Engineers can bring an action to force restoration of the site and possible civil monetary and/or criminal penalties.

To learn more about the Corps’ Chicago District Regulatory Mission, log on to http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory.aspx.

Vanessa Villarreal
(312) 846-5331

Release no. 20-020