New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical

Fact Sheet #10
December 2004

DePue, Illinois

This is a New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Superfund project update on work accomplished since the last update issued in late July. The update information is in the unboxed area immediately following the heading. In response to comments from citizen surveys and interviews, more detailed information--including information about the Interim Consent Order (ICO) requirements for each unit--is located in the boxed area. Future updates will be shorter—also in response to the surveys. The ICO is an agreement filed in the circuit court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Bureau County, between the State of Illinois and the potentially responsible parties (PRPs)1 .

1The PRPs for this site are ExxonMobil Corporation, Viacom International Inc. and Horsehead Industries, Inc.

South Ditch

85 percent complete

Since late July: In November, the (PRPs) submitted a revised draft remedial design/remedial action work plan for the South Ditch sediments in response to IEPA October comments on a previous draft. The work plan includes a proposed method for excavation and removal of sediment, health and safety plans, dust control measures and specifications for the on-site interim storage cell for the sediment. The Illinois EPA conditionally approved this November work plan on November 30, pending minor revisions. Construction of the on-site containment cell should begin in the near future and will continue if sustained temperatures remain above freezing. If lake and river levels remain low or at normal levels, and weather does not deteriorate, work could progress through the winter. If weather stops construction this winter, everything should be in place for work to begin in the spring.

South Ditch Background

The Problem: Over many years, runoff from the New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical plant property has contaminated the South Ditch sediments with metals. These contaminated sediments have been an ongoing source of contamination of Lake DePue.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO requires the PRPs to investigate the South Ditch sediments and to implement the chosen remedy for the sediments.

Past Actions: After considering public comment, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) decided that the contaminated sediments should be removed from the ditch and placed on-site in an interim storage cell. This action will remove one source of ongoing contamination of the lake and meet the ICO requirement.

Lake DePue

5 percent complete

Since late July: On September 16, IEPA Director Renee Cipriano and IEPA senior managers met with village officials, state legislators and a representative from Congressman Weller’s office to discuss the project. In this meeting, the IEPA Director and senior managers committed to reassess all lake reports and plans, consult with Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and others on options, and pursue the best course of action to remediate Lake DePue in a timely manner. The IEPA and the PRPs met with IDNR in November to review previous lake studies. Following that meeting, the PRPs agreed to submit a work plan for a comprehensive study of the lake early in 2005. The agreed goal of the parties is to initiate the lake study in late summer 2005.

Lake DePue Background

The Problem: Contaminated water has discharged from the plant property to the lake for many years. Limited tests by IDNR show elevated concentrations of metals in the lake sediment. Unfortunately, the methods used to collect these samples did not meet Interim Consent Order or Superfund requirements. Decisions about the lake sediment cannot be made until the sediments have been thoroughly investigated.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO requires the PRPs to investigate the lake and to conduct a feasibility study (FS) of possible remedies. The IEPA will present the FS and a proposed plan to the public for comment. After carefully considering public comment, the IEPA will document its decision on the remedy in a record of decision. The ICO requires the PRPs to design the remedy designated in the record of decision. Implementation of the remedy will be subject to additional negotiations between the State of Illinois and the PRPs.

Past actions: The PRPs have greatly reduced the sources of ongoing contamination of the lake by constructing and operating the water treatment plant on the former plant site. When the sediments from the South Ditch are removed, another major source of ongoing contamination of the lake will have been removed.

The PRPs have entered initial discussions with the IEPA, IDNR and federal agencies, proposing a unified and comprehensive study of the lake. The goal of this unified investigation would be to gather information on the condition of the lake, support selection of a remedy(ies) for the lake and provide data for a Natural Resource Damages Assessment (NRDA)1 . The IEPA and IDNR, as the State of Illinois’ Natural Resource Trustees, will also seek an investigation of the remainder of the New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Superfund site to identify other natural resource injuries.

1Natural Resource Damages are defined as injury to, destruction of, or loss of natural resources, including land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, groundwater or drinking water supplies that are managed by the government. The measure of damages under the Superfund law and the Oil Pollution Act is the cost of restoring resources to their baseline condition and the reasonable costs of a damage assessment.

Off-Site Soil Sampling

5 percent complete

Since late July: In the September 16 meeting, IEPA Director Renee Cipriano, IEPA senior managers, village officials, state legislators and a representative from Congressman Weller’s office discussed off-site soil sampling. By the end of the meeting, all parties agreed that both off-site (including residential) soil sampling and the investigation of Lake DePue are important to the future of DePue and must be pursued simultaneously.

The IEPA has returned comments to the PRPs on the off-site soil sampling work plan that the PRPs submitted to the agency in May. In these comments, the agency conveyed the importance of reevaluating areas of residential soil where previous studies indicate a possible short-term concern. The PRPs have agreed to initiate off-site soil investigations in spring 2005. If soils are identified that require immediate removal, the IEPA and the PRPs have agreed to work toward an immediate remedy for affected properties.

Off-site Soil Sampling Background

The Problem: In 1992, the IEPA collected 20 soil samples throughout the town and found elevated levels of metals in the soil. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) evaluation of the sample results stated that concentrations in these 20 samples did not pose a risk from short-term exposure, but they needed more information to determine long-term risk. State guidance assumes that a long-term exposure for ingestion of noncarcinogens (non-cancer causing substances) is six years for children. IDPH collected additional samples in 1992 using different methods. The IDPH samples overall showed higher concentrations of metals in residential soil than IEPA samples.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO requires the PRPs to complete a remedial investigation, risk assessment and feasibility study. It also requires the PRPs to design the chosen remedy for the off-site soils if a remedy is required. Implementation of the remedy will be the subject of future negotiations between the PRPs and the State of Illinois.

Past actions: In 2000, the IEPA conducted a series of tests using X-ray fluorescence equipment to further evaluate off-site soil contamination on public properties. This work was done in response to a request by the Citizens’ Advisory Group. The 2000 barium and lead results were in the general range of the 1992 IEPA samples. The detection levels of the XRF equipment were not sufficient to determine trends for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, manganese and silver. In February of 2004, the IEPA requested that the PRPs submit a draft work plan for off-site soil sampling. In May 2004, the PRPs submitted the requested plan and the agency completed its review returning comments to the DePue Group in early October.

Overall Remedial Investigation of the Plant Property

30 percent complete

Since late July: In the second week of November, the IEPA returned comments to the PRPs on a draft report of Phase I remedial investigation results. The agency expects a PRP response within 75 days. When the PRPs submit a report that the IEPA approves, the agency will distribute a fact sheet summarizing the report and place the report in the public repository located in the Selby Township Library. The PRPs also are continuing to develop a work plan for the Phase II investigations.

Overall Remedial Investigation of the Plant Property Background

The Problem: Years of industrial activity have left contaminants on the former plant property. Before a remedy can be proposed, a thorough investigation needs to be completed that identifies which chemicals are of concern, where they are located (depth of contamination as well as location on the plant property) and in which media (soil, waste, groundwater or surface water) the contaminants are found.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO requires the PRPs to complete a remedial investigation of the plant property and conduct a feasibility study (FS) of possible remedies. The ICO also allows the PRPs to propose presumptive (final) remedies for certain areas within the site. The IEPA will present the FS and a proposed plan to the public for comment. After carefully considering public comment, the IEPA will document its decision on the remedy in a record of decision. The ICO requires the PRPs to design the remedy designated in the record of decision. Implementation of the remedy will be subject to additional negotiations between the State of Illinois and the PRPs.

Past actions: In 2000, the PRPs completed the fieldwork for Phase I of the remedial investigation.

Gypsum Stack

85 percent complete

Since late July 2004: The PRPs are procuring new bids from contractors for the next phases of construction at the gypsum stack. Earlier this year, water discharging from the gypsum stack slightly exceeded state limits set for fluoride, unionized ammonia, sulfate and total dissolved solids. The PRPs have constructed a remedy to prevent further exceedances. Testing is underway to confirm the effectiveness of these corrective actions.

Gypsum Stack Background

The Problem: The on-site manufacture of fertilizer created gypsum as a byproduct. This gypsum was disposed of in a 150-acre pile north of Route 29. Federal and state regulations require that such piles need to be “closed”, which means that they need to be covered so that gypsum does not blow off the pile and so water falling on the pile does not seep through the waste and carry contaminants into the groundwater beneath the stack.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO requires the PRPs to complete closure of the gypsum stack consistent with requirements of federal and state regulations.

Past Actions: The PRPs have drained and vegetated three of four ponds on top of the stack and have started draining the fourth pond. During 2003, the PRPs finished major aspects of rebuilding and lining the Clearwater Pond that is at the bottom of the stack and visible from Route 29. The PRPs have also regraded additional areas of the stack and seeded them with grass. When grass is fully established it should provide the required final cover.

Water Treatment Plant

100 percent complete with ongoing operation and maintenance

Since July: Occasionally, during exceptionally heavy rainfall, the water treatment plant has not been able to treat all the collected water. During these events, less contaminated water has been diverted from the water treatment plant and discharged into Lake DePue without treatment. In response, the PRPs have built several structures to enable them to measure the volume of water from various parts of the site and to collect this water for analysis. The PRPs have completed these structures and are prepared to assess any flows during and after significant rains. If the surface water studies identify water that does not need treatment, the water can be diverted from the water treatment system--thus reducing the number of bypasses. No bypasses of the collection and treatment system have occurred since July of 2003. The PRPs and the IEPA continue to look of opportunities to further decrease their frequency.

Water Treatment Plant Background

The Problem: Both groundwater and surface water carried contaminants from the plant property into Lake DePue.

Interim Consent Order (ICO) Requirement: The ICO required the PRPs to eliminate the discharge of all contaminated surface water from the site and to eliminate or reduce the discharge of contaminated groundwater to the “surface waters of the State” (Lake DePue). The ICO required that the water leaving the water treatment plant meet all federal and state laws and requirements by June 11, 2000.

Past Actions: The PRPs constructed the water treatment plant and it met all requirements of the ICO.

Lake Festival

On Saturday, September 18, a lake festival was held on the banks of Lake DePue. Around 40 attended and heard several presentations including one by Ken Clodfelter (IDNR) on invasive species of fish and plants that threatened native fish and plants and a presentation from Dr. Rich Cahill (Illinois State Geological Survey) on the preliminary results of sediment sampling that IDNR conducted in Lake DePue. Clodfelter and Dan Salle (IDNR) conducted a fish shocking so that residents could see some of the fish species that are present in the lake. Dick Westfall (IDNR) had information on the Grand Illinois Trail planned to connect the path along the Illinois and Michigan canal with the path along the Hennepin Canal. Bureau County is a missing link. A number of children enjoyed looking through a microscope at organisms in Lake DePue water and learned to bait a hook and cast a line. Several actually caught fish. A big thanks to Beverly Harrison, the local organizer, and to the Booster Club which sold great food.

Superfund Redevelopment

The Village of DePue was awarded a grant of services in July of 2002 by the U. S. EPA. The purpose of the grant was to assist the community in developing a set of future land use recommendations for the New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Superfund site. These recommendations are intended to provide guidance to the village of DePue, IEPA and the U.S. EPA on viable reuse goals for the site. The consultant team guiding this process was E2 Inc.

After meeting twice with Village officials and residents, E2 released a project report in August 2004. In the report, they made the following five recommendations.

  1. Adapt the former New Jersey Zinc plant facility as a new museum of history and industry that showcases DePue’s natural and industrial heritage.
  2. Promote DePue as a tourist destination and emphasize ecotourism as a unique local economic development opportunity.
  3. Create recreational opportunities at the site and link the site to regional recreational amenities.
  4. Provide opportunities for ecological restoration, wildlife habitat enhancements and general environmental education.
  5. Create new economic opportunities in DePue.

The report also outlines challenges to site reuse and resources that can help DePue reach its redevelopment goals. The report has been placed in the project repository in the Selby Township Library in DePue. Questions should be directed to Mike Hancox of E2 at (434) 975-6700.

For More information

Contacts: You may contact Kurt Neibergall, Illinois EPA Community Relations Coordinator (217) 785-3819, or Rich Lange, Illinois EPA Project Manager (815) 447-2125, at 1021 North Grand Ave. East; P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, IL 62794-9276.

Repositories: The Illinois EPA has placed project documents in the Selby Township Library in DePue for public review. Please call the library for hours at (815) 447-2660.

Administrative Record File: The administrative record file contains all documents upon which project decisions are based. This file is located in the Springfield office of the Illinois EPA. Call for an appointment at 217/782-9878. A copy of the administrative record file index is located in the project repository in the Selby Township Library in DePue. The documents listed in this index are included in the repository documents.

PRP Contacts: The PRP co-project managers are Joseph Abel (Exxon Mobil Global Remediation, East Providence Terminal, Providence, RI, telephone number (401) 434-7356 and Mark Travers (ENVIRON, 123 North Wacker Dr. Suite 250, Chicago, IL 60606, telephone number (312) 853-9430).