New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical

Fact Sheet #15
October 2013

Bureau County, DePue, Illinois

The Illinois EPA is working with the DePue Group (CBS and ExxonMobil) on determining an efficient way to investigate and, if needed, clean up contamination in Operable Unit 4 (residential yards and elsewhere in the Village). To help answer some questions and make better decisions about how to implement a full-scale investigation and cleanup, the DePue Group will conduct a Pilot Study in which they will take soil samples from 30 to 50 properties throughout the Village.

In October 2013, the final work plan for the Pilot Study detailing methods for sample collection and analysis was approved by Illinois EPA. A copy of this work plan can be found in the project information repository at the Selby Township Library in DePue.

Fieldwork for the Pilot Study is anticipated to occur in November and December, 2013.

Once the Pilot Study is completed and the information evaluated, the Design Study that describes full-scale implementation throughout the entire Village can be finalized. Once the Design Study is finalized, it will be presented to the public through a Proposed Plan. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Plan to Illinois EPA. Illinois EPA will then issue a Record of Decision describing the work to be completed and how it will be conducted. The State must negotiate a new consent order with the DePue Group before the full-scale Design Study field work can begin.

When the new consent order is entered by the court, the more comprehensive investigation and cleanup throughout the Village will occur. During this later effort, ALL property owners in the Village will have an opportunity to participate and have their property sampled and evaluated.

Want to learn more?

HOLD THE DATE: November 6, 2013

The Illinois EPA will host two Informational meetings at the VFW Hall in DePue on Wednesday November 6. The sessions will be held from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Staff from Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Public Health, and the DePue Group will be available to discuss how the Pilot Study will be implemented.

Why won’t they just clean up my yard when they sample it?

The Superfund law that regulates this investigation and cleanup require a number of steps to occur before there is any cleanup, including public participation. Illinois EPA and the DePue Group are working to streamline this process as much as possible, but there are still necessary steps that must be taken.

How will properties be selected for the Pilot Study?

It is important to obtain samples from locations throughout the Village. For the Pilot Study, the Village has been divided into sub-areas and a certain number of properties will be sampled within each sub-area. So as not to bias the results, individual residential lots will be selected using a random selection process. The owners of those randomly-selected lots will receive a letter and access agreement from the DePue Group and Illinois EPA in late October. Sampling is anticipated to take place in November and December.

For full-scale implementation during the future Design Study, every property owner in the Village will have an opportunity to participate.

How do I give permission to have my property sampled?

No property will be sampled unless the property owner gives his or her written consent. Property owners will be asked to sign an access agreement granting access and permission to sample. The signed access agreement will allow field technicians to obtain samples from the property, and perform, if necessary, soil remediation activities in the future. An agreed date will be scheduled for the sampling activity. Typically, sampling at each property will be completed in approximately four hours. If the property owner does not wish to participate, the DePue Group will select another property nearby.

How will sample locations be chosen?

The number of samples to be collected at each property will be based on the size of the property. Typically, samples will be located across the property and will be taken from front yards, back yards, side yards, the drip zone of the house, and other areas.

Who will conduct the sampling?

Soil sampling will be conducted by representatives of the DePue Group with oversight by Illinois EPA staff and an Illinois EPA contractor.

How will samples be taken?

Professional technicians accompanied by Illinois EPA representatives will use hand tools to collect soil from several small-diameter (2-inch) boreholes. Typically, five boreholes will be placed in the front yard and five boreholes in the back yard. These five samples will be combined into one sample for analysis (a composite sample). In addition, composite samples will be collected from play areas, bare areas, from drip zones of buildings, and around downspouts on the property. Discrete samples will be taken in gardens. Boreholes will extend to approximately 18-24 inches below the ground surface and will be backfilled with soil. The original sod from the borehole will be replaced when possible. Measurements of the location of each borehole will be made with a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) device so a record is kept of sample locations in the yard.

Why will the samples only be collected in the upper 2 feet?

Contamination from the plant that was carried off the former plant site into the Village by the wind is expected to be present only in shallow soil. During the pilot study, samples will be collected in increments to a depth of 24 inches to verify this assumption.

What will the samples be analyzed for?

All samples will be analyzed for metals that were present in plant wastes, including: antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, total chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, thallium, and zinc.

How will sample results be reported to me?

The DePue Group will submit the analytical results from the sampling to Illinois EPA. The Illinois EPA will provide this data to the Illinois Department of Public Health, who will interpret the results and write an explanation letter to each property owner. The Illinois EPA will also provide an explanation of the results to property owners.

Will I have to disclose sample results if I am trying to sell my house?

The State of Illinois Residential Real Property Disclosure Act (765 ILCS 77/1 et seq. (2012)) contains a list of items that must be disclosed by the seller of residential property in Illinois. It requires the disclosure of lead in soils, but it does not specifically address the disclosure of other metals in soils on a residential lot. However, it is always advisable for a seller to consult with their real estate agent and/or attorney before making any decision on what does or does not need to be disclosed during the sale of residential property.

For more information, you may contact:

Jay A. Timm
Community Relations Coord.
Illinois EPA
(217) 557-4972
Charlene Falco
Project Manager
Illinois EPA
(217) 785-2891