Residents File Lawsuit Over Proposed Seneca, Ill., Barge Fleet

Two Grundy County, Ill., residents are taking the state and an oil transport company to court to try to get a hearing on a proposed barge fleeting operation that would be developed on the Illinois River east of Seneca, Ill., radio station WCMY reported December 31. The defendants are Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan and Illinois & Michigan Oil LLC. The Corps of Engineers issued a permit for the facility September 29, according to Jim Kelly, project manager at the Rock Island Engineer District. A permit for a much smaller barge fleeting area to be developed by ARTCO was issued September 15, just downstream. No objections to that facility have surfaced, said Kelly.

Richard and Gloria Sims claim the barge fleet proposal requires a public permit hearing, the governor’s personal approval and contact with local property owners. Their complaint, filed in Grundy County Court, claims the development will amount to a “floating tank farm” that could carry 75 to 100 times the amount of liquid fertilizer that exploded in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, 2020. The complaint proposed a range of relief measures, from ordering the hearing to prohibiting the project outright.

The Seneca barge terminal is being proposed by Derek Egan and Illinois & Michigan Oil of Joliet (Ill.). They are proposing to develop the terminal along the south bank of the Illinois River near Seneca (WJ, August 15, 2020).

The company wants to install mooring pins for barge fleeting and to dredge so that it can build 600 feet of steel sheet pile seawall along the area of 7700 W. Dupont Road. In addition to the mooring pins, the upper and lower fleet areas will be dredged to a depth of 10 feet. The barges would be fleeted/moored from Mile 255.7 downstream to Mile 254.1, or about 300 feet east of the Seneca Railroad drawbridge. A small portion of the fleet would encroach on the navigation channel.

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