Hegeler Zinc

Fact Sheet #1
June 2003

Hegeler, Illinois

Background

This 100-acre site, which was formerly a zinc smelting facility from 1906 until approximately 1954, is located just west of the village of Hegeler, south of Danville. It is in a rural area, bordered by farmland on the west and the north. Hegeler Zinc produced various grades of zinc slab and rolled zinc products as well as sulfuric acid. In November 1947, zinc-smelting operations ceased, but zinc-rolling and sulfuric acid production continued until at least 1954. The smelting operation produced large amounts of slag (through a burning process), which was stored in piles on the site. The slag, which remains on the site, is a cinder material containing unburned residues and metals such as lead, arsenic and zinc.

The Illinois EPA has performed a comprehensive investigation of the Hegeler Zinc Site and surrounding area. Illinois EPA collected on-site soil, waste (slag), sediment and groundwater samples. Off-site sampling included residential soil and sediment samples. Following the investigation, and based on sampling results, Illinois EPA requested that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) engage in a removal action. The initial stage of this process was to install a six-foot chain link fence around the site to prevent trespassers from coming in contact with the on-site soil and waste material.

What are the chemicals of concern at this site?

On-site soils and slag materials contained some contaminants (arsenic, lead and zinc) at levels many times greater than comparison cleanup values.

Lead, cadmium, beryllium, manganese, iron, nickel, thallium and zinc (all metals) were found in shallow groundwater on the site at levels greater than U.S. EPA drinking water comparison values.

Should I be concerned about my children playing in Grape Creek, which crosses the site?

Results of sediment sampling in the creek just north of the site (the creek runs northeast across the site) showed only two chemicals at levels greater than comparison values. According to theHealth Consultation that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) devel- oped for the site, “a child playing in the creek seven days per week for three months per year would not be expected to experience any adverse health effects. ”

Does Illinois EPA have concerns that some of the contamination might leave the site?

Illinois EPA was concerned that air blown dust might leave the site and deposit on residential properties. Consequently, screening samples were taken during 2002 in Tilton, north of the site, to test for evidence of lead contamination. No metals were detected at levels greater than the soil comparison values.

However, in 2001, samples from Hegeler residential properties showed lead, cadmium and zinc at levels three times background levels. Also, investigations in 2003 showed that slag waste from the site may have been used as fill material for private drives and along some residential streets in Hegeler and Tilton.

IDPH’s March 17, 2003, Health Consultation for the site concludes, “the Hegeler Zinc site poses no apparent public health hazard,” as long as the site continues to be used for industrial rather than residential purposes. Cary Ware, Environmental Health Specialist, is the IDPH contact for this site. He can be reached at 217/278-5900.

I saw that Illinois EPA took some samples on private properties in 2001 and again in 2002. What were the results, in general, from samples taken from these properties?

As stated above, no metals were detected at levels greater than soil comparison values for cleanup in the screening sampling on residential properties north of the site. Some metals were detected on properties in Hegeler at levels several times greater than comparison samples from properties that have not been impacted by the site.

Of three residential screening samples taken in April 2003, some metals (e.g., lead, nickel) were found in driveways for which the Illinois Department of Public Health issued cautionary letters to the homeowners.

What are the current plans for the site?

Illinois EPA is completing the necessary process for the site’s possible inclusion on the National Priorities List of sites that the state or federal EPA recommends for cleanup under the Comprehensive Environ- mental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly referred to as Superfund. This federal law authorizes the state of Illinois or the federal government to respond directly to releases, or threatened releases, of hazardous substances that may endanger public health, welfare or the environment.

Meanwhile, U.S. EPA has secured the site by fencing areas of elevated contamination (to keep out trespassers), and Illinois EPA is evaluating whether to seal the site from public access.

For more information, you may contact:

Carol Fuller
Illinois EPA
Office of Community Relations
(217) 524-8807
Jerry Willman
Illinois EPA
Project Manager
(217) 524-6365
Maggie Carson
Illinois EPA
Public Information Officer
(217) 557-8138