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Grace Christian Fellowship v. KJG Invs., Inc.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20192
Nos. No. 07-C-0348, (E.D. Wis., 08/07/2009)

A district court denied a religious congregation's motion for a preliminary injunction under RCRA ordering the former owner of a gas station to clean up contamination beneath their church. In early April 2006, a gasoline spill occurred at the gas station and migrated to the church, the basement of which is used as a school. Later that month, gasoline vapors entered the church's basement and several employees and students became ill from the odors. The local fire department subsequently declared the building uninhabitable, set up an emergency venting system, and ordered the electricity be shut off to avoid an explosion. The church initiated an emergency response, and in May 2006, the building was deemed safe and the congregation was allowed to reoccupy and use its building. Since then, the church has been using its basement without interruption. Nevertheless, based on its assertion that gasoline vapors are present and may be at concentrations below the odor threshold but harmful to children, the church filed suit and sought a preliminary injunction. The court denied their motion. Although there is evidence that gasoline vapors exist under the church, the church has not shown that gasoline vapors are present in the building or that they create an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or environment. Accordingly, the church failed to establish that absent a preliminary injunction, it will suffer irreparable harm in the interim period prior to a final resolution of its claims.