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Congressional District # 16


EPA ID# ILD005252432
Last Updated: December, 2011

Site Description

The Parsons Casket Hardware Company Site is located on the northeast side of Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois.  The surface footprint of the Parsons property covers approximately 6 acres. The site is bordered by residential communities to the east and southeast and by various industrial and commercial facilities to the south, west, and north. The Kishwaukee River is approximately 0.25 mile south-southeast of the site.  The Parsons Casket Hardware Company manufactured decorative metal fittings for caskets at the site from the early 1900s until 1982, when the owner filed for bankruptcy.  The manufacturing operations required use of hazardous chemicals, and hazardous waste by-products were generated as a result of the manufacturing process.  Wastes from the operations were stored in drums, aboveground and underground storage tanks, and an unlined surface impoundment.  Wastes that were generated included: electroplating sludge; cyanide plating and cleaning solutions; bronze, nickel, and brass sludges; and associated solvents.

In 1982, the state found that approximately 120 drums of various sizes were stored inside and outside the manufacturing building.  Many were dented, corroded, leaking, or uncovered.  Approximately 4,800 gallons of wastes were stored in aboveground and underground tanks.  An unlined lagoon contained approximately 166,500 gallons of liquid wastes and 1,230 cubic yards of sludges.  Although these wastes were removed by the State of Illinois in 1985, sampling data, collected by the state in 1987, indicated that the groundwater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  The municipal water system in the area draws on this groundwater which is the sole source of drinking water for Belvidere's 15,200 residents.  Approximately 6,000 people live within a one-mile radius of the site.  It's bordered by residential housing to the east and industrial facilities to the west, north, and south. The closest residence is located less than one-tenth of a mile away.  A municipal water supply well is located about 1,500 feet from the site.  Area residents use the Kishwaukee River, located 1,400 feet from the site, for fishing and recreational activities.

While the Site itself is only about 6 acres, the area covered by the groundwater contamination plume is at least 75 acres in size and perhaps more since the northern limits of this plume have yet to be identified.   

Site Responsibility

Operable Unit #1 (Site Soils) was completed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) with funding from the U. S. EPA.  The IEPA prepared and U.S. EPA concurred with a Record of Decision (ROD) for Operable Unit #2 (Groundwater contamination) in 2005 and the U.S. EPA developed an enforcment case to bring in other contributors to the groundwater contamination and secure their involvement in the groundwater cleanup.

As part of the enforcement action, U.S. EPA  conducted sampling at several other facilities in an effort to identify additional potentially responsible parties (PRPs).  Based on this sampling, EPA was able to confirm the following responsible parties:  Johns Manville, Textron Inc., Camcar LLC., Central Rubber Corporation, and Woodhead Industries.  Subsequently, U. S EPA and U. S Department of Justice successfully completed a negotiated settlement with the above mentioned PRPs.  A cash-out settlement consent decree (CD) in the amount of $ 3.6 million was signed between U. S. EPA and the above listed PRP group in October 2010.

On May 30, 2007, U.S. EPA completed its first Five-Year Review ("FYR") of the site.  The first Five-Year Review was restricted in scope to the remedial action undertaken by the IEPA pursuant to the Operable Unit #1 ROD (on-site soils) that commenced on December 14, 1998.  The issues highlighted in the previous Five-Year Review related to the disposition of investigation derived waste drums and an abandoned office trailer located at the site have been addressed.


Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater contains various volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).  On-site soils that used to contain VOCs, cyanide, and heavy metals including: arsenic, copper, and nickel were remediated by the IEPA with funding from U.S. EPA.  People who use the local municipal water supply system could be exposed to hazardous chemicals from the site.  However, the municipal water supply has been analyzed quarterly to ensure that people have not been exposed to dangerous levels of contaminants.

Cleanup Progress

The State of Illinois began the cleanup of the surface impoundment and the storage tanks on the site in 1985.  Waste materials, including lagoon liquids, sludges, and storage tank liquids, were removed, treated, and disposed of offsite.  Filter Systems, Inc. purchased the building in 1985 and properly disposed of the 120 drums inside the building.  Between 1987 and 1996, the IEPA conducted a remedial investigated/feasibility study (RI/FS).  It was determined by the agencies that the site should be segregated into separate cleanup projects for soil and groundwater.  The groundwater will require additional investigation, based on the discovery of a separate VOC plume adjacent to the site.

In 1996, U.S. EPA selected a remedy for the cleanup of surface contamination at the site. The major components of the selected remedy include: installation of a security fence around the site; deed/zoning restrictions to prohibit groundwater use; limits on building construction on the site (i.e., residential construction); control of waste material generated from movement of soils at the site (e.g., footings for buildings); excavation and removal of contaminated soils from the abandoned lagoon area, addressing suspected dry wells; and groundwater monitoring. The remedial action was completed in August 2000 for the soil operable unit.  Construction for the soil operable unit has also been completed.  A remedial action construction completion report for Operable Unit 1 was completed in May 2002.  Also, IEPA is currently working with the City of Belvidere on future use of the property, i.e., a business/truck bypass is tentatively being proposed across the site by the city to reroute truck traffic away from nearby residential areas.  The U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.), in cooperation with U.S. EPA, is conducting an ongoing study of the Galena-Platteville bedrock aquifer beneath the city of Belvidere. Unfortunately, the ongoing study has revealed a much larger problem in the area around Parson's. The nature and extent of groundwater contamination, from Parson's and potentially from other unidentified offsite sources, are still being investigated.

IEPA completed a Feasibility Study (FS) for the groundwater in 2004 and a Record of Decision for Operable Unit #2 - Groundwater in 2005.   The 2005 ROD provided for in-situ chemical oxidation of the groundwater plume and it included a contingency for air stripping of the water coming from municipal wells #4 and #6 if they should become impacted by site contaminants.  As of November 2011, the U. S EPA is conducting a pre-design investigation to determine the applicability and viability of the groundwater remedy selected in the 2005 groundwater ROD.   U.S. EPA is currently engaged in PRP search activities and additional sampling. The objective is to identify other potentially responsible parties who may have contributed to the contamination and should participate in the remedial design/remedial action (RD/RA) for the groundwater cleanup.

Congressional Interest

Senators Durbin and Obama have made several inquiries as to the status of cleanup operations at the site and the potential for harm to the City of Belvidere's municipal wells.

Property Reuse

The City of Belvidere wishes to use the land under the former Parson's Site to extend the truck route from the bypass into the commercial area around the Parson's Site.  U.S. EPA is involved in discussions with the City and has prepared a "Reasonable Steps Letter" to advise the City about future re-use of the site and protect the integrity of the remedy. 


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
syed quadri (quadri.syed@epa.gov)
(312) 886-5736

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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