Smith-Douglass

Fact Sheet #3
September 2, 1999

South Streator, Livingston County, Illinois

Background

The Smith-Douglass site is located in Newtown Township, Livingston County, South Streator, Illinois. The property is 124 acres in size. Within the site is approximately 30 acres which had been used for fertilizer manufacturing. Elsewhere on the site are three ponds, a six acre landfill and a gypsum pile which covers approximately 25 - 40 acres. Phillips Creek flows westward through the site before entering the Vermilion River.

From 1964 until 1985 a succession of owners operated a fertilizer plant at the site. Smith-Douglass Inc. filed for bankruptcy in.1983 and their successor, SECO, filed for bankruptcy in 1985. Manufacturing ceased in 1985 and the site was abandoned.

A United States Bankruptcy Court in North Carolina issued an order that allowed Smith-Douglass to unconditionally abandon the property. This order was appealed by the State of Illinois and Borden, Inc., a former owner. However, the order was affirmed by a U.S. District Court in 1987 and the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1988.

Investigations by the IEPA revealed the presence of a large quantity of unsecured hazardous material on site and on September 29, 1988 the site was sealed based on section 34 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. Signs were posted around the site warning the public of the Seal Order. In 1989, Illinois EPA removed thousands of gallons of hazardous material from the site. In 1992, several drums of vanadium pentoxide were returned to the manufacturer.

Between August and October of 1993, the county allowed a demolition contractor access to the site to demolish the buildings. The demolition and removal of materials was not completed and rubble from the demolition remains at the site.

What has been done at the facility?

On July 27, 1996, the Illinois EPA approved a Work Plan entitled "Preliminary Facility Assessment, Smith Douglass Facility, South Streator, Illinois" (PFA) submitted by Borden, Inc. for themselves and the Wells Fargo Business Credit, Inc. The objective of the PFA was to determine the nature, scope and extent of potential contamination at the site. The field activities for the assessment were conducted between August 19, 1996 and October 11, 1996. Illinois EPA participated in the field activities by providing laboratory services. Follow-up field activities occurred between March 3 and March 5, 1997.

Results of the PFA

Although samples taken at the site show low levels of contamination of pesticides, semi-volatile compounds, metals, nitrate and fluoride, the contamination does not appear to be moving off-site and private well sampling has shown that the site has not impacted private wells. The contamination would only pose a threat to persons disturbing and coming in direct contact with contaminated soil.

Sampling did not find substantive levels of volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls. Also, testing of the gypsum stack showed that it is in compliance with applicable radiological regulations and does not pose an environmental threat to human health or the environment. There is considerable physical risk to trespassers who ride motorized vehicles at the site.

Many samples, including soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater, displayed acidic pH. Coles Pond and Fresh Pond both receive acid runoff from the gypsum stack and have low pH. There is a potential risk to anyone that comes into contact with the pond water.

Current Situation

Although the site remains sealed, the gypsum stack continues to illegally be used almost daily for riding dirt bikes, four-wheelers, etc. The site is also a magnet for random dumping and presents numerous physical risks to trespassers. The taxes on the property have not been paid for several years, therefore the Smith-Douglass site currently has no owner, including the county.

Current Work at the Site

Fresh Pond is approximately seven feet above the height of Phillips Creek and separated from it by a berm. The PFA notes that the integrity of the berm is in question. Borden has proposed an emergency repair to the berm to prevent it from breaking and spilling Fresh Pond into Phillips Creek and the Vermilion River. In the next few months, people driving by the site may see construction work as the berm repairs progress.

For more information, please feel free to call or write the following personnel:

Bradley Frost
IEPA Community Relations
(217) 782-7027

Sue Doubet
IEPA Project Management
(217) 785-6871

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
1021 North Grand Avenue, East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276