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Hegeler Superfund Site Update: EPA Begins Collecting More Soil and Water Samples

Release Date: 04/01/2010
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, Ginny Narsete, 312-886-4359,

No. 10-OPA033

(CHICAGO – April 1, 2010) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 returns to the Hegeler Zinc Superfund site this week. The site is a 100-acre property, three miles south of Danville, Ill., and west of the village of Hegeler.

EPA contractors will install 10 new ground-water monitoring wells. The effort will include collection of subsurface soil samples on-site, and surface water and sediment samples from an unnamed stream on the property and Grape Creek, a mile north of the site. Drilling equipment and workers in required protective gear will be visible in and around the site through early June.

EPA is concerned about the possibility of contamination runoff from the site to the on-site stream, which flows into Grape Creek. To gain a complete picture of those impacts, if any, surface water samples will be collected from both this season. The water samples will be tested for metals and perchlorate, a chemical found in commercial fireworks—which have, at times, been stored in trailers at the site.

Data collected this summer will provide a more comprehensive understanding of ground-water, surface water and soil contamination at and near the site.

The facility operated as a zinc smelter from 1906 to at least 1954. In 2005, the site was added to the National Priorities List, a roster of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup under EPA’s Superfund program. Illinois EPA continues to work in consultation with EPA in addressing the site.

In 2006, following initial investigative work which included a review of Illinois EPA’s previous site analysis, 10 ground-water monitoring wells were installed at the Hegeler site. Since 2007, EPA has conducted two rounds of soil sampling at residential properties east of the property. The samples—small plugs of grass and soil—were tested for lead, arsenic and other metals. A preliminary analysis released in spring 2009 found that, based on soil contamination levels, residents near the site do not face an immediate health threat. A complete analysis including new soil samples collected in summer 2009 will be shared with individual property owners and residents beginning in May.

In addition to the 2009-2010 sample collection efforts, EPA completed a study in 2007 to determine the extent of contamination at the former plant property. Detailed cleanup plans are expected to be completed by 2011 and will then be introduced to the community for comment.

On a separate track from the on-site work, this week the U.S. Department of Justice, representing EPA and a number of other government agencies, lodged a proposed bankruptcy settlement with Lyondell Chemical, parent company to Millennium Holdings, which is potentially responsible for certain contamination at the Hegeler site. Following a 15-day public comment period and if approved by the Bankruptcy Court, EPA Region 5 could receive new financial resources to further cleanup efforts at the Hegeler site. A Federal Register notice with complete information on the proposed settlement and how to submit comments will be published in the next few days on the U.S. Department of Justice website: http://www.usdoj/enrd/consent_decrees/html.

Residents with questions about the sampling effort may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Ginny Narsete, 800-621-8431, Ext. 64359. Site documents are on file at the Danville Public Library, 319 N. Vermilion St., and the Westville Public Library, 233 S. State St. Documents are also online at

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