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Congressional District # 07


EPA ID# ILD982074775
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The North Station former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site ("North Station site") is located in Chicago, Illinois, and is bounded by North Crosby, West Division, and West Hobbie Streets and the North Branch Canal (part of the Chicago River system).  Land use near the site is mixed residential and industrial/commercial.  The former MGP site consists of three parcels totaling approximately 8 acres.  One parcel, the 1.5-acre LaSalle Chestnut property, is adjacent to the canal and is currently vacant.  A second parcel, currently owned by Commonwealth Edison, is approximately 5.5 acres and contains an electrical substation and associated buildings and towers.  The third parcel, which is north of the LaSalle Chestnut property and less than 1 acre in size, is currently used as a storage yard for construction equipment.

The Chicago Gas Light and Coke Company built the MGP facility in 1868 for the production of coal gas.  In 1887, production was converted to water gas.  The Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (Peoples Gas) owned and closed the MGP facility in the early 1960s.  The primary MGP structures included a 1.5 million cubic foot gas holder, two 500,000 cubic foot relief holders, and a 750,000-gallon oil tank as well as underground oil tanks, tar settling wells, a tar tank, a naphtha tank, tar extractors, oil condensers, pumps and scrubbers, an ash hopper, and various buildings. The parcel adjacent to the North Branch Canal was used for coal storage.

The North Station site is being addressed under EPA's Superfund Alternative site (SA) program. 

Site Responsibility

The North Station site is being addressed through potentially responsible party (PRP) actions under federal and state oversight.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater samples collected in 2002 contained concentrations of cyanide, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) above Illinois Tier 1 screening levels.  Groundwater has been detected at depths ranging from 3 to 11.5 feet below ground surface (bgs) at the site. The direction of shallow groundwater flow appears to be west/southwest towards the canal.

The surface soil at the North Station site is fill material composed primarily of gravel and sand with smaller amounts of silt, clay, brick, cinders, glass, and wood. The fill is underlain by native soils at depths ranging from 7 to 12 feet bgs. The native soils consist of brown/gray clay with silt and trace amounts of gravel, and are at least 20 feet thick.  Subsurface investigations at the site have been limited by the presence of a variety of underground utility features.  Coal tar impacts (free product, saturated soils, strong odors, and staining) have been observed at various locations during site investigations.  Metals (arsenic, chromium, lead, silver, and selenium), benezene, tolutene, ethylbenzene, xylene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including naphthalene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)fluoranthene, and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene), and other semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) were detected in soil samples at concentrations exceeding the Illinois Tier 1 screening levels. 

Human exposure to contaminated soils or groundwater could cause adverse health effects over the long term.

In 2000, EPA collected sediment samples from a location in the North Branch Canal adjacent to the site.  These samples contained high levels of PAHs, polychlorinated biphyenyls (PCBs), oil and grease, and metals; the concentrations of these substances generally increased with depth.  Many of the reported concentrations of total and individual PAHs, PCBs, and metals suggest toxicity to organisms (benthic invertebrates) that live in the sediment. 

Cleanup Progress

In 2005 EPA was approached by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPSC)with a request to investigate and clean up seven former MGP sites in  Wisconsin under EPA's Superfund Alternative site (SA) program. (The SA program addresses potential cleanup sites that might otherwise be eligible for listing on the National Priorities List (NPL), but which will instead be investigated and cleaned up by a cooperative PRP without formally listing the site on the NPL.) When WPSC merged with Peoples Energy to form Integrys Energy Group in 2007, Integrys approached EPA with the request to address thirteen former MGP sites in Illinois under the SA program. Two former MGP sites are located in Waukegan and eleven are in Chicago. The North Station site is one of the thirteen Illinois MGP sites.

In 2007 EPA and Integrys entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the two Waukegan MGP sites and an AOC for Engineering Evaluations and Cost Analyses (EE/CAs) at the eleven Chicago MGP sites. Since all twenty MGP sites have similar conditions and contaminants, and Integrys is the PRP for each, the AOCs allow a streamlined approach to site investigation and remedy development. Some benefits of the agreement include the use of multi-site documents, a mechanism to review the adequacy of past work, and scheduling flexibility to allow progress on the "worst problems first."  By the end of 2008, all of the multi-site documents had been approved, and site-specific work had begun on several of the sites. On October 31, 2008, EPA and Integrys entered into an AOC which converted the EE/CA AOC for the eleven Chicago former MGP sites to an RI/FS AOC.

To more effectively manage all eleven original Chicago sites, the RI/FS AOC organized them into four larger sites: the North Shore Avenue Site, the North Branch Site, the South Branch Site. and the Crawford Site.  Both the North Branch Site and the South Branch Site have several operable units. The North Branch Site is comprised of the Division Street Station Operable Unit (OU), the North Station OU, and the Willow Street/Hawthorned Avenue Station OU. One site is the the North Shore Avenue Station Site. The South Branch Site is comprised of the 22nd Street Station Upland OU, the Hough Place Station Upland OU, the Pitney Court Station Upland OU, the South Station Upland OU, the Throop Station Upland OU, and the South Branch River OU.

Investigations and Remediation Previously Performed

Peoples Gas conducted a site investigation in 1999 and additional investigations were performed in 2001, 2005, and 2006.  Investigations were conducted in the right-of-way around the Commonwealth Edison property in 2001 and 2002.  Remediation activities conducted to date on the Commonwealth Edison property have involved limited removal of foundations, a buried tank and piping, and approximately 1,100 cubic yards of impacted soil.  Remediation activities were conducted on the LaSalle Chestnut parcel in 2007, the portion of the site that is closest to the North Branch Canal.  Impacted materials were being excavated to depths of up to 10 feet bgs and disposed of off-site.

EPA approved the RI work plan in March 2012 and field work started in spring 2013.  Due to access issues, the initial field work was not completed until April 2014.  An RI summary report was submitted to EPA for review in November 2014 and EPA is planning that a draft RI report will be submitted for review before the end of 2015. 


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
Rosauro Del Rosario (delrosario.rosauro@epa.gov)
(312) 886-6195



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