Southeast Rockford

Source Area 7
Limited Environmental Investigation

Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project

April 1996

Rockford, Illinois

Background

Within the next several weeks, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) will conduct the final phase of field work in Area 7 of the Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project.

Samples will include:

  • soil gas samples (air beneath ground surface)
  • soil samples (surface and subsurface)
  • sediment and water samples from the creek that runs north of Balsam

Why is the IEPA conducting this work?

Within the past four years, the IEPA has been investigating possible sources of industrial solvents found in southeast Rockford private wells and one municipal well. This investigation has shown that Area 7 and three other areas are major sources of the groundwater contamination.

In 1995, the IEPA and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) proposed, and the public agreed, to a two part remedy for the contaminated groundwater. First, residences and businesses with drinking water wells that may be affected by the contamination within the next 70 years will be connected to the Rockford Water Supply. Second, remedies for the sources will be selected (after public comment) to prevent ongoing releases of contamination to the groundwater.

The IEPA has extensive information about the Area 7 source but needs a limited amount of additional information before proposing a remedy for Area 7. The upcoming soil and soil gas samples will determine the northern and southwestern boundaries of Area 7 contamination. The sediment and surface water samples will be collected to evaluate possible, contamination in the creek.

What is Area 7?

Area 7 is a former unregulated disposal area evidently used for both household and industrial waste. The area is now a field and a park. Early aerial photographs of Area 7 show evidence of waste disposal, excavation, and possible trenching from 1951 through 1970. IEPA sample results indicate the presence of high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) beneath the surface. VOCs are chemicals containing carbon that evaporate or vaporize readily at room temperature.

Health Questions

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 Rockford Public Water Supply safe to drink?

Yes. The Rockford Public Water Supply is regularly tested for the solvents found in southeast Rockford private wells, and water that violates public water supply standards is not distributed to the public.

Am I or my family exposed to significant concentrations of VOC vapors?

No. These VOCs are found in common household products such as paints, glues, and cleaners so most homes have low levels. If vapors are present beneath one's home, it is possible for the vapors to come up into the house through sump pits and cracks in the foundation. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and IEPA have conducted air sampling in basements near Area 7, and to date no compounds have been detected above levels that would cause a health concern.

Is it okay for children to play in the park?

Yes. IEPA samples showed that the main contamination is below the ground surface. It does not appear that the surface levels would cause adverse health effects.

Next Steps

What happens after the IEPA completes their investigations?

If funding is available, the IEPA and U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) will complete a study of remedies and propose, for public comment, a remedy for Area 7 contamination.

When will the IEPA and USEPA propose a remedy for Area 7 contamination?

The date is uncertain. Currently, this project is funded by the federal Superfund program, and the federal law authorizing the collection of funds for this program expired December 31, 1995. There are sufficient funds remaining from the 1995 budget to conduct the present investigation, but there may be no new funds to write the report describing investigation results or to complete a study of remedies until the Congress reauthorizes the Superfund program.

Are there other ways of funding a study of remedies and the construction of a remedy?

Yes. The USEPA, the U.S. Department of Justice, the IEPA, and the Illinois Office of the Attorney General are negotiating with parties considered responsible for the contamination. If these negotiations are successful, the responsible parties may pay for the next steps. If the negotiations are unsuccessful, the work will be funded by federal funds when those funds are available. If federal funds are used, the USEPA has the authority to sue responsible parties to recover costs.

Who are the parties considered responsible?

In 1992, based upon responses to requests for information, the USEPA notified seven companies of their potential liability for the Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project. The USEPA also demanded reimbursement for funds spent thus far on the site. The seven companies are Sundstrand Corporation, Borg-Warner Corporation, Rockford Products Corporation, Erhardt & Leimer, Inc., Gordon Bartels Co., Suntec Industries, Inc., and Estwing Manufacturing Co. This list may change as more information is gathered.

For Additional Information:

More information on the Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project may be found in project repositories located at:

Rockford Public Library
Rock River Branch
3134 11th Street
815/398-7514
(Call ahead for library hours)

Ken-Rock Community Center
3218 11th Street
815/398-8864

The Administrative Record File is on microfiche at:

Rockford Public Library
Main Branch
(215 North Wyman)

For other information contact:

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

Technical Assistance Grants

(Citizen groups desiring technical assistance in interpreting data from this investigation may be eligible for a technical assistance grant (TAG). The TAG is a USEPA program which provides up to $50,000 per site to community groups wishing to hire consultants to interpret data generated during a Superfund investigation. Twenty percent of the total funding amount must be provided by the group. These funds may be paid in cash and/or by using in?kind services. TAGS cannot be used to duplicate field or lab work. Their purpose is to give the public a better understanding of existing documents and site activities. 'Municipalities, other governmental agencies, political subdivisions, potentially responsible parties, academic institutions, and headquarters of public interest groups are not eligible to receive TAGs. However, members of these groups may belong to a community organization requesting a TAG. Further information about TAG is available by contacting:

Susan Pastor
TAG Coordinator
USEPA P-19J
Office of Public Affairs
77 West Jackson
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Telephone, 1-800-621-8431.