Sandoval Zinc Company

Fact Sheet #1
September 2011

Sandoval, Marion County, Illinois

On September 16, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL) Final Rule #52 in the Federal Register(76 FR 57662). The NPL is U.S.EPA's list of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified for long-term cleanup. This final rule added 11 sites to the NPL nationwide, including the Sandoval Zinc Company, a 14-acre site located east of Sandoval in Marion County, Illinois.

Site Background

Sandoval Zinc Company operated a smelter for 85 years. Zinc smelting is the process for converting zinc-bearing ores into pure zinc. The company closed in 1985 and filed bankruptcy in 1986. Air emissions from the plant included metals and wind-blown ash. Large amounts of the cinder/slag from smelting were used in constructing and surfacing secondary roads and for fill material on the property. The cinder/slag material not used by the plant was offered to the public and the Village of Sandoval to construct roads, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots. Many areas in town exhibit evidence of past use of this material, some of which has been covered with concrete.

An uncontrolled waste pile made up of cinders and slag covers approximately five acres of the facility. The cinder/slag contains elevated levels of lead, zinc and other metals. Contaminants have migrated from the site to a drainage ditch and adjacent pond and wetlands. Antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc were detected in the wetlands in excess of U.S.EPA’s regional sediment screening values. Antimony, arsenic, lead and zinc have been found in residential yards in excess of U.S.EPA’s regional screening levels.

In 1991 Illinois EPA placed a seal order on the abandoned facility. Also that year, Illinois EPA undertook removal actions in response to a spill of fuel oil from an above ground storage tank. Additional cleanup activities performed by Illinois EPA in 1998 consisted of repairing and replacement of fencing, the removal of hazardous substances inside the buildings and the demolition and disposal of site buildings.

In 2010, Illinois EPA concurred with U.S.EPA listing the Sandoval Zinc Company site on the NPL so that cleanup could be pursued to address human health and environmental risks posed by the site. U.S.EPA is the lead environmental regulatory agency for the Sandoval Zinc Company site under Superfund.

Next Steps

U.S. EPA Region 5 Superfund staff expects to begin work on the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study in spring 2012. All site sampling and characterization should be completed in calendar year 2012.

A remedial investigation is a study of the nature and extent of contamination at a cleanup site, while the feasibility study proposes and evaluates cleanup options. Cleanup alternatives are evaluated against criteria including effectiveness, overall protection and cost. U.S.EPA then proposes a cleanup plan for the site, and people have an opportunity to review and comment on that plan. This process can take years to complete, but the community is kept informed as the investigation moves forward. If an imminent threat to human health is discovered on the site or in the community then U.S.EPA can step in and do an emergency cleanup.

Once the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study is complete and a remedy selected, the responsible parties for this site will be given the opportunity to undertake the work. If they fail to do so, then the site will be eligible for federal cleanup funding. Remedy funding for all Superfund sites is allocated on the basis of the priority assigned to the site by U.S.EPA Headquarters.

For more information

U.S. EPA Region 5
Community Involvement Coordinator
Heriberto León
312-886-6163 or
800-621-8431, ext. 66163
U.S. EPA Region 5
Remedial Project Manager
Pamela Molitor
312-886-3543 or
800-621-8431, ext. 63543
Additional Site Contact
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Community Relations Coordinator
Michelle Tebrugge
217-524-4825