By Michael Hawthorne
Trump International Hotel & Tower is endangering fish and other aquatic life in the Chicago River, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleges in a new lawsuit targeting the president’s skyscraper for multiple violations of clean water laws.
The glass-and-steel tower, emblazoned with a sign spelling “TRUMP” in letters more than 20 feet high, is one of the city’s largest users of river water for its cooling systems. It siphons nearly 20 million gallons a day through intakes so powerful the machines could fill an Olympic swimming pool in less than an hour, then pumps the water back into the river up to 35 degrees hotter.
Madigan’s lawsuit, filed late Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, accuses Trump Tower of failing to meet several requirements in a state permit intended to limit the number of fish pinned against intake screens or killed by sudden changes in pressure and temperature.
Building managers also failed to properly renew the permit and have been operating the massive cooling system unlawfully for nearly a year, according to the lawsuit.
A draft of the state’s latest permit gives building managers another three years to complete the ecological study and confirms state inspectors failed to ensure the skyscraper has complied with the fish-protecting regulations.
The Illinois EPA pulled back from renewing Trump Tower’s permit after the Sierra Club, Friends of the Chicago River and the University of Chicago’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic threatened to sue.
The groups have informally discussed a settlement with Trump Tower representatives. On Tuesday, the Trump Organization emailed a two-sentence statement in response to Madigan’s lawsuit:
“We are disappointed that the Illinois attorney general would choose to file this suit considering such items are generally handled at the administrative level. One can only conclude that this decision was motivated by politics.”
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