MADISON (WKOW) -- The state is suing a Madison-based company, saying it did not properly investigate and respond to health concerns after hazardous chemicals leaked into the backyards of nearby homes.
The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit Friday at the request of the Department of Natural Resources against Madison-Kipp Corporation.
People living on Marquette Street on Madison's east side say it's about time.
"All of us on this side of the street have been aware of the problem but nobody believed us and now I feel completely vindicated," Sharon Helmus says.
Helmus says she's lived in her home behind Madison-Kipp all her life—73 years.
The company makes machined parts for transportation and industrial customers.
You can see its smokestacks from Helmus' backyard, but it's what you can't see she finds most concerning.
"We are all concerned for the health of seniors and the little ones," Helmus says. "And property values have gone down. I don't know how many people would like to have that. We can't sell our homes."
A civil complaint accuses Madison-Kipp of releasing cancer-causing chemicals known as PCEs (tetrachloroethene) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) into the soil and groundwater, affecting at least 39 properties.
It says Madison-Kipp knew in 2006 that oil with PCBs was spread at the facility. It also says DNR didn't find out until just this year.
"We need to do everything we can to clean up the mess that has occurred, to restore the property to the position it was previously in," says Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "What penalties come along with that, if any, depends upon how justice system works out."
Madison-Kipp has 20 days to respond to the complaint.
"Madison-Kipp did not do anything illegal," says spokesman Mark Meunier. "Madison-Kipp and its consultants will continue to work aggressively to resolve the state's claim with the oversight and approval of DNR."
He says the most recent tests don't show elevated health risks.
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