Southeast Rockford

Source Area 7

Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project

February 1995

Rockford, Illinois

Background

What is Area 7?

Area 7 is a former unregulated disposal area that is located at the east end of Balsam Lane. The area is now a field and a park. Early aerial photographs show evidence of disposal, excavation, and possible trenching in the area from 1951 through 1970, with most of the disposal occurring in the 1950's. The northern boundary of disposal has not yet been defined.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) investigations indicate that Area 7 was used mainly for disposal of household wastes but also includes a significant amount of industrial waste. Chemicals from this industrial waste apparently are one of the major sources of private well contamination in the Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project. The private wells, contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are located west of Area 7, beginning approximately at 25th Street. The IEPA investigated approximately 15 locations, in addition to Area 7, as potential sources for the Superfund contamination. The second fact sheet describes the results of the entire IEPA investigation.

Work completed In Area 7

10/91

First nest of monitoring wells installed at the east end of Balsam Lane indicated a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater (water beneath the ground) was nearby.

1992

Electromagnetic survey, ground penetrating radar, and the first soil gas survey of the area indicated the presence beneath ground surface of buried metal, other fill materials, and chlorinated VOCs (VOCs that contain chlorine).

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) collected air samples from the basements of nearby houses.

1993

Additional soil gas surveys, two test pits, 24 subsurface soil borings, and additional monitoring wells confirmed the presence of an area which had been used for disposal of industrial solvents and other materials.

IDPH and IEPA collected a second round of basement air samples from Pine Manor homes.

Results of IEPA Investigations

What chemicals are present in Area 7?

IEPA investigations indicate the presence of a number of compounds used in industrial processes. These compounds include solvents such as 1,1,1trichloroethane (TCA), perch loroethvlene, (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), toluene, and xylene which are in a group of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also present are breakdown products of some of these chemicals.

Are drums buried in Area 7?

The two test pit excavations and the soil borings did not reveal buried drums, but this subsurface investigation was conducted only in a very limited area. Further data need to be collected to select an appropriate remedy. Concentrations of some of the chemicals indicate the possibility that tanker trucks may have come to the area and dumped chemicals in liquid form (which have since been covered) on to the ground.

Who is responsible for Area 7?

Under the Superfund law, past and present owners of the site, parties who generated waste found at the site, and parties who transported the waste to the site could be held responsible for the contamination. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U. S. Department of Justice are determining who may be responsible. If you have information that could help identify potentially responsible parties, please contact one of the people named at the end of this fact sheet.

Potential Health Effects

Is it okay for children to play in the park?

Yes. The main contamination is below the surface. The IEPA collected surface soil samples to verify this assumption and the surface samples showed only low levels of contaminants. It does not appear these levels would cause adverse health effects.

Are harmful vapors of VOCs migrating from the groundwater into my basement?

Both the IEPA and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have tested air in the basements of Pine Manor subdivision homes. Many of the VOCs found in the Area 7 disposal area are present in common household products such as cleaners, waxes, glues, and paints, so it is difficult to determine sources of VOCs. However, none of the homes sampled by IEPA and IDPH had concentrations of VOCs exceeding levels found in the average urban American home.

Is Pine Manor Subdivision built on an old disposal area?

No. Old aerial photographs and IEPA test results confirm that the western boundary of the old disposal area is located several hundred feet east of the Pine Manor subdivision.

Is the drinking water in Pine Manor Subdivision safe to drink?

Yes. Pine Manor is connected to the Rockford public water system and the city periodically tests the water before it is distributed to the public. Water that fails USEPA public water supply standards is not distributed to the public.

Next Steps

What happens next?

The IEPA is conducting a feasibility study of possible remedies to address contaminated groundwater. The feasibility study, by law, must include a wide range of alternatives, from no action to aggressive action. This spring, the IEPA and USEPA will present this study to the public for comment along with the IEPA and USEPA recommended groundwater remedy. After considering all public comments, the IEPA and USEPA will make a final decision on the groundwater remedy for the site.

Later this year, the IEPA will begin the necessary field work to define the northern boundary of the old disposal area. When this work is complete, the IEPA and USEPA will conduct a study of possible additional remedies which may be needed for Source Area 7. In 1996/1997 the IEPA will present this study to the public for comment.

For Additional Information

Repositories and Administrative Record

Repositories of project information (including information on Area 7) are located at the Rock River Branch of the Rockford Public Library (3134 S. 11th Street) and the Ken?Rock Community Center (3218 S. 11th Street). The administrative record file (a file that contains documents upon which decisions are based) is located on microfiche at the main branch of the Rockford Public Library (215 N. Wyman).

Contacts:

Tammy Mitchell 
Community Relations Coord.
Illinois EPA
1021 N. Grand Ave. E.
Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Phone: (217) 524-2292
Thomas Williams 
Project Manager
Illinois EPA
1021 N. Grand Ave. E.
Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Phone: (815) 223-1714
Turpin Ballard
Project Manager
USEPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
312/353-6083

Glossary

Electromagnetic survey.
A method of survey which is used to detect the presence of metal objects beneath ground surface.
Feasibility study.
A study which identifies and evaluates the most appropriate technical approaches for addressing contamination problems at a Superfund site. The alternatives are evaluated using a number of criteria including effectiveness in protecting human health and the environment, community acceptance, and cost.
Groundwater.
Water beneath the ground surface.
Ground penetrating radar.
A method of survey which is used to determine the presence of disturbed areas and changes in the geology beneath ground surface.
Monitoring well.
A well installed at a known depth used to measure groundwater characteristics such as the presence or absence of contamination, the distance to the water table, and the direction and speed of groundwater flow.
Soil borings.
A method of collecting soil samples beneath ground surface. In Area 7 some soil borings reached a depth of 47 feet.
Soil gas survey.
A method of survey in which a probe is driven into the ground, and air beneath the surface is withdrawn and analyzed for volatile organic compounds.
Superfund.
The common name for the federal program established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 as amended in 1986. The Superfund law authorizes USEPA to investigate and clean up the nation's most serious hazardous waste sites. The law also allows the USEPA to delegate some authority to the states.
Test pit.
A test pit is a small hole excavated under highly controlled conditions in order to collect samples and observe material beneath the surface. In areas of disposal by unknown parties, a test pit can provide an opportunity to observe waste and gather information on who may be responsible for disposing of the waste.
Volatile organic compound (VOC).
An organic (carbon-containing) compound that evaporates (volatilizes) readily at room temperature.