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Fact Sheet 5

Fact Sheet 5

March 2003

South Streator, Illinois


For many years, this 124-acre site was the location of fertilizer manufacturing, which used naturally occurring phosphates found in gypsum. The process used acid to free the phosphates for use in fertilizer production, and it resulted in a 25 to 40 acre pile/stack of acidic gypsum waste. The gypsum waste was piled into a strip mine pond and now rises more than 60 feet above the pond surface. Illinois EPA placed a Seal Order (to prevent public access) on the site in 1988 and, in 1989, spent $500,000 to perform an Immediate Removal of hazardous waste at the site. In 2000, the Agency worked with Borden Chemical, Inc., a former site owner, to do emergency stabilization work to safeguard surrounding residents and the environment. After many years of dealing with obstacles and delays, visible progress is taking place on the site.

Current Situation

A cleanup of demolition waste and a Feasibility Study are planned for Area 1 (30 acres; northern portion of the site; see map) where partially demolished buildings still exist from the former industrial complex along with some waste areas. Allied Waste Industries, Inc. has volunteered to clean up this material. Sorting of debris will occur during March and April 2003, with removal to Streator Landfill to follow.

Additional site-related work to take place this spring will include replacement of the bridge over Phillips Creek on Smith Douglass Road. Bridge repairs were scheduled for 2005, but Livingston County and the City of Streator will now begin work in April 2003. As a result, the bridge will be ready to bear the load of the dirt that must be delivered to the south part of the site when the gypsum stack is capped.

Additional Problems:

Area 2 (85+ acres including the gypsum stack and ponds) has been the problem of greatest concern. Until recently, a weakened berm has been the only thing holding back millions of gallons of acid water from release to the Vermilion River. However, Borden Chemical, Inc. has strengthened the berm and neutralized Fresh Pond, which temporarily reduces the threats from Area 2. A Feasibility Study is also planned for Area 3 (an estimated 3-8 acre landfill) on the northwest part of the site.

Does Illinois EPA have information about what needs to be done to safely clean up the site?

Illinois EPA has contracted two feasibility studies to be done this spring (the former industrial area and the landfill) that will give us the complete picture of what work needs to be completed to safely clean up or close those areas. The cost of these studies and a design to backfill Fresh Pond and Coles Pond and regrade/recontour the remaining gypsum stack is $478,120. This does not include the costs of construction needs, which may be identified by the studies.

Is there a radioactive component to the site? How will that be dealt with in a remedy?

Yes, there is a component of low-level, naturally occurring radium in the gypsum waste. Capping the gypsum pile (at the south end of the site) will be protective of the environment and human health. Sorting is necessary for debris from a few spots on the north end of the site. All debris with radiation measurements less than the radiation emission limit (50 micro-R per hour) may be safely disposed at a landfill.

I understand that the acid ponds are being treated or "neutralized." Does that solve that problem? Where will the treated water go?

Yes, Borden, Inc. has obtained a permit and treated the acid water in Fresh Pond to neutralize it. When the water is pumped out of the pond, gypsum waste from the stack can be pushed into the pond to fill it and reinforce the weakened berm at the northwest edge. However, funds are not currently available to do the work. When they are, the water will need to be treated and discharged.

If this is truly an "orphaned" site, who will be responsible for the cost of the studies and the work?

In an unusual move, Illinois EPA has developed a partnership among federal, state and local governments and private entities to come up with a shared approach to getting the necessary work done on this site. The partnership that is currently meeting to find creative solutions for the problems at the site include Reading and Newton Townships, the City of Streator, Livingston County Planning Commission and County Public Health Dept., Illinois EPA and U.S EPA, the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, State Senator Dan Rutherford, VIM Recycling, Borden Chemical, Inc. and Allied Waste Industries, Inc.

Borden, a previous owner of the site (prior to Smith-Douglass abandoning the site), has voluntarily performed a lot of work at the site in the last two years. Allied Waste has recently become involved and has offered to donate soil for the cap for the gypsum stack and to haul and dispose debris from the site. Illinois EPA paid for the feasibility studies.

What has been decided as far as "next steps" toward a remedy for the site?

Allied Waste agreed to remove the debris from partially demolished buildings on site. All debris with radiation measurements less than 50 micro-R per hour of gamma radiation may be safely disposed at a landfill.

How quickly will this work begin?

Allied began sorting debris March 3rd and will start, in approximately six weeks, taking the debris to the landfill. Allied will bring loads of soil during this time to be stockpiled on the north end of the site for use in capping the gypsum stack after the ponds have been backfilled and the stack recontoured.

What funds will still be needed to complete the site work?

Approximately $2 to $4.5 million is needed to dewater the ponds, complete the recontouring work, and construct a cap for the gypsum pile and other portions of Area 2. This does not include remedial costs to be identified by the feasibility studies of Areas 1 and 3. State Senator Rutherford is currently working to help secure some funding.

Why is there such a wide range in the cost estimate for Area 2?

The high figure of $4.5 million is the anticipated cost if all the work is done by professional environmental contractors. If portions of the work can be donated, the cost could be reduced.

What are plans for future land use of this site?

Future use of the site is under consideration by the Partnership (above). A suggestion has been made to re-use the site, once cleaned up, as a wildlife preserve. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is being consulted about possible options. The site Feasibility Study will outline potential uses and the corresponding level of cleanup necessary for each one (e.g., a parking lot versus a natural area).

For more information, you may contact:

Carol Fuller

Community Relations Coord

Illinois EPA

(217) 524-8807
Maggie Carson

Public Information Officer

Illinois EPA

(217) 557-8138
Sue Doubet

Project Manager

Illinois EPA

(217) 785-6871