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Illinois files suit over asbestos removal at Taylorville Kroger store

Illinois’ Attorney General has announced a lawsuit against The Kroger Co. and SSI Services LLC related to the alleged improper asbestos removal at a Taylorville grocery store.

“Kroger and SSI Services have jeopardized the public’s health by exposing shoppers and employees to dangerous materials containing asbestos,” Kwame Raoul said. “The asbestos must be remediated before members of the public are allowed back into this store. I am committed to ensuring that Kroger and SSI Services are held accountable for creating this hazard and for preventing any further harm to the public’s health and the environment.”

The suit alleges Kroger and SSI Services conducted unsafe renovations by leaving chipped floor tiles that contained asbestos in areas accessible to the public while the store was open, creating a substantial danger to public health.

Raoul’s office said there is no known safe exposure level to asbestos and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that the defendants failed to ensure that all materials containing asbestos remained wet until collected and contained or treated in preparation for disposal. According to the complaint, Kroger and SSI Services also failed to properly dispose of all waste material that contained asbestos.

Observations of the broken tiles in public areas of the store led the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to issue a seal order to protect public health on July 29. Raoul is now seeking remediation of all asbestos contamination in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations before the store is reopened.

“The Illinois EPA referred this case to the Attorney General’s Office to ensure Kroger and SSI are held responsible for the improper removal of asbestos in the store, resulting in an unacceptable risk to the store’s customers and employees,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “We are committed to ensuring the store is properly remediated prior to reopening for the safety of the employees and customers.”

A Kroger spokesperson last month said safety is one of the company’s core values and that it would work with officials to get the facility reopened.

“We’re offering our associates the opportunity to work at our stores in Decatur until the issue is resolved,” he said.

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