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Fact Sheet 3

Remedial Investigation

Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project

June 1991

Rockford, Illinois


The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is conducting a remedial (environmental) investigation as part of the Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund project. This investigation will be carried out by IEPA contractor, Camp, Dresser, and McKee.

What is the purpose of the investigation?

The purpose of the investigation includes two goals:

  1. to identify the source or sources of industrial solvents found in southeast Rockford private wells, and
  2. to evaluate the depth and horizontal extent of this solvent contamination.

The industrial solvents are a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds.

What has been done to protect residents with contaminated private wells?

In the summer and fall of 1990, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) connected over 280 southeast Rockford homes to the Rockford public water supply system, because levels of industrial solvents in the private wells of these homes posed a possible threat from short?term exposure. In the spring of 1991, the IEPA completed a study that identified approximately 240 additional private wells with lower levels of contamination that may pose a health threat from long?term exposure. This summer, the USEPA will connect these additional homes to the Rockford public water supply system also. Wells sampled are located between the Rock River and 24th Street in an area approximately bounded by Harrison Avenue and Sandy Hollow Road. Not all wells in this area, however, are contaminated.

Where will the environmental investigation take place?

Based on private well sample results, the IEPA defined an expanded area for investigation bounded by the Rock River, Harrison Avenue, Sandy Hollow Road and approximately one and a quarter miles east of Alpine Road. These boundaries do not indicate areas of known contamination but represent the geographical area of study which must include uncontaminated as well as contaminated segments. By comparing groundwater flow in contaminated and uncontaminated segments in the study area, one can begin to focus on possible sources.

How will the investigation be carried out?

The investigation includes a soil gas survey in six neighborhoods and the installation and sampling of 11 sets of monitoring wells. In addition, the contractor will sample industrial and Illinois State Water Survey monitoring wells already in place.

What is a soil gas survey?

The soil gas survey is a relatively quick method of evaluating approximate concentrations of volatile organic compounds in the groundwater (underground water). The soil gas survey is conducted by driving a hollow tube into the ground to a depth of up to five feet and withdrawing gas (air) from the ground. The gas is analyzed on site for the volatile organic compounds found in the groundwater.

Why are monitoring wells installed?

The monitoring wells will be used to collect data on the direction of groundwater flow, the geology of the area, and the extent of contamination. Monitoring wells will be installed at different depths, so that the depth of contamination can be evaluated as well as the horizontal extent of contamination.

If my house is sitting on contaminated groundwater, am I exposed to the contaminants?

With contaminant concentrations found in southeast Rockford, the only route of exposure to contaminated groundwater is drinking, cooking or bathing with water from a contaminated private well. If you have Rockford public water, you need not be concerned about exposure to contaminated groundwater, because the Rockford water supply is regularly tested for the chemicals of concern.

Why do workers conducting the investigation wear protective clothing?

Protective clothing is used partly to keep workers dry as they conduct their work. Some protection is also standard procedure for workers who make a living investigating hazardous waste sites.

When will the investigation begin?

The soil gas survey began the first part of May. Installation of monitoring wells will begin within the next month.

When will we know the investigation results?

The results from the investigation will be made public in early 1992.

What will happen after the investigation results are known?

The results will be evaluated to determine whether additional monitoring wells need to be installed to identify the source(s) of contamination. After the source(s) are identified, the IEPA will complete a study of alternatives for reducing or cleaning up the contamination. The public will be given an opportunity to comment on these alternatives before a final decision is made on the remedy.

Where is there more information about the investigation?

Copies of the work plan have been placed for public review in the Rock River Branch of the Rockford Public Library (3134 South 11th Street) and the Ken-Rock Community Center (3218 South 11th Street).

Technica Assistance Grants

Citizen groups desiring technical assistance in interpreting data from this investigation may be eligible for a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG). The TAG is a USEPA program which provides up to $50,000 per site to community groups wishing to hire consultants to interpret data generated during a Superfund investigation? Twenty percent of the total funding amount must be provided by the group. These funds may be paid in cash and/or by using in?kind services. TAGS cannot be used to duplicate field or lab work. Their purpose is to give the public a better understanding of existing documents and site activities.

Municipalities, other governmental agencies, political subdivisions, potentially responsible parties, academic institutions and headquarters of public interest groups are not eligible to receive TAGS. However, members of these groups may belong to a community organization requesting a TAG.

Further information about TAG is available by contacting the TAG Coordinator, USEPA 5PA 14, 230 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60604, phone 1-800-572-2515.

For Additional Information

Tammy Mitchell

Community Relations Coord.

Illinois EPA

1021 N. Grand Ave. E.

Box 19276

Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276

Phone: (217) 524-2292
Thomas Williams

Project Manager

Illinois EPA

1021 N. Grand Ave. E.

Box 19276

Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276

Phone: (815) 223-1714