Wedron Site Updates
Water samples taken in March 2014 from the eight Wedron replacement wells that EPA installed this winter confirms that the water is safe to drink. At the same time, EPA also tested other wells at homes that are adjacent to the groundwater plume. One of these wells showed a detection of benzene at a level close to the standards that are set by the EPA for drinking water quality. The detection in this well is not in excess of the EPA standards. This well was sampled over one year ago and did not show contamination at that time.
EPA has communicated with the owner and the tenants to make sure that they use bottled water and do not drink from the well. EPA is working to install carbon filter units similar to the ones installed in eight Wedron wells in 2012 and 2013 before those wells were replaced because of benzene contamination. Granular activated carbon has proven effective for removing benzene from water to below the standards set by EPA.
EPA is trying to identify sources of the groundwater contamination. To that end, EPA continues to oversee groundwater and soil investigations by BP, Illinois Railway, Lockheed Martin, Technisand, and Wedron Silica Company as agreed through Administrative Orders on Consent (AOCs) with the companies. Final reports for the investigations are expected in summer 2014.
After the groundwater and soil investigations are complete, EPA will work to identify long-term solutions to provide alternative water to Wedron residents who may become affected by the groundwater contamination. The additional well with contamination will be included in that evaluation.
EPA, LaSalle County Health Department and Illinois EPA have agreed on a long-term sampling plan to sample private wells in Wedron for a period of two years in order to take immediate response action to protect the public health if benzene is detected near or in excess of EPA standards.
EPA collected additional water samples from the recently installed eight residential replacement wells in early April 2014. Previous sampling showed that the water is good quality. EPA expects to have the results from this second round of sampling in May 2014.
EPA continues to oversee groundwater and soil investigations by BP, Illinois Railway, Lockheed Martin, Technisand, and Wedron Silica Company as agreed through Administrative Orders on Consent (AOCs) with the companies.
Harsh winter weather caused some delays with the investigations. Most of the soil investigation work is complete, and results from the soil investigations and the Hoxsey property investigation show there are multiple potential sources of the benzene contamination in Wedron.
EPA is overseeing remaining investigation work that will confirm the locations of the sources of contamination. Final reports for the investigations are expected in summer 2014.
Wedron Silica Company and Technisand are planning to perform air monitoring in Wedron for one year starting summer 2014. The air monitors will collect information on blowing sand in Wedron, and EPA will oversee the work.
EPA has completed the installation of eight private drinking water wells in Wedron to replace existing wells that had benzene contamination. The wells were drilled into the lower New Richmond aquifer which provides potable water to many of the residents in LaSalle County. The water from the new wells have been sampled and results show that it is good quality water. The Agency recommends that the residents with the newly installed wells upgrade their water softener in order to reduce traces of naturally occurring radium, which may appear in some of the water samples. The EPA will collect additional water samples from the new wells in March and April of 2014.
The EPA also concluded vapor intrusion sampling in three Wedron homes this fall. A subslab and indoor air sample were collected at each property for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The results showed that vapors inside the homes and under the subslab are below EPA's screening values and do not pose a health risk. No further vapor intrusion sampling is planned at this time.
The Agency is overseeing groundwater and soil investigations by BP, Illinois Railway, Technisand, and Wedron Silica Company as agreed through Administrative Orders on Consent (AOCs) with the companies. An additional underground storage tank has been discovered during the initial phase of these investigations. This makes the third tank that will have been removed since the beginning of EPA's activities in Wedron. The results of the investigations by these parties, which are expected in the Spring of 2014, should provide information on the possible sources of the benzene contamination in Wedron. The AOCs are available on this webpage under Technical Documents.
The Agency will conduct another round of water sampling in March 2014 at a limited number of Wedron locations on and near where the benzene plume has been located. See map showing the approximate area of the groundwater contamination.
Illinois EPA has concluded field work for an investigation on the Hoxsey property to explore its role as a potential source of the groundwater contamination in Wedron. IEPA is in the process of analyzing information it obtained during the field work in order to develop a draft report summarizing the results of that work. IEPA is coordinating this effort with U.S. EPA and is using state funds to pay for the investigation.
U.S. EPA plans to begin work this month to install individual replacement wells for eight private drinking water wells currently contaminated with benzene. The federal Agency is awaiting approvals from the LaSalle County Health Department before beginning the work.
The Agency also plans to install five additional monitoring wells in Wedron to further define the extent of the groundwater contamination plume and help determine sources of contamination. Based on the results of the soil gas sampling that we completed this summer, we will conduct limited vapor intrusion monitoring in 3-4 homes in coordination with ATSDR this fall.
U.S. EPA has reached agreements in principle with BP, Illinois Railway, Lockheed Martin, Technisand, and Wedron Silica Company to perform investigations in Wedron that will help the Agency identify potential sources of the contamination to the soil and groundwater. We anticipate finalizing the Administrative Orders on Consent and Work Plans in September 2013 so the investigations can begin in October 2013. The Agency is using its authority under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for these investigations. In addition, as part of an information request from the EPA under the Clean Air Act, Wedron Silica Company and Technisand are working with EPA to install air monitors in Wedron to study the impact of blowing sand in Wedron.
Illinois EPA is installing three monitoring wells on the Hoxsey property in September to further investigate the Hoxsey property as a potential source of the groundwater contamination. IEPA is coordinating this effort with U.S. EPA and is using state funds to pay for the investigation.
The EPA has completed a community involvement plan (CIP) (PDF)(37pp, 283K), to enhance communication between local residents and EPA as the investigation and cleanup at the site progress. EPA invites everyone to provide comments about the plan to Heriberto Leon, Community Involvement Coordinator.
Last year, EPA sampled all but two of the 45 homes in Wedron. EPA is trying to get access to the remaining two properties. Nine homes tested positive for volatile organic compounds, including benzene, and these residents were offered bottled water. In addition, EPA’s contractor installed filtration systems in these homes in February 2013.
Since last October, EPA has hosted community meetings every two months, and the most recent meeting was on April 3. Health officials from the CDC’s Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have joined us at meetings and are a resource for residents with health concerns. The next EPA event will be an open house scheduled for early June, and it will be advertised on our website.
This spring and summer EPA will continue efforts to investigate the sources of contamination and explore options for a long-term solution. These efforts include:
- Plans to conduct vapor intrusion sampling in homes in early May to determine whether indoor air is being impacted by the contamination.
- Evaluating locations for two new semi-private deep wells that would serve the nine homes with contaminated wells.
- Overseeing a groundwater study being voluntarily conducted by Fairmont Minerals this spring.
- Continuing to work with Illinois EPA, which is conducting a soil investigation at the Hoxsey property in May 2013.
July and August 2012
In July 2012, EPA and Illinois EPA collected soil samples from 18 locations in Wedron using a special drilling rig called a geoprobe that can collect samples beneath soil surface. The results of the soil sampling also showed elevated levels of the VOCs benzene, chloroform, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. This investigation also identified several potential sources of the groundwater and soil contamination.
Also in July 2012, EPA, Illinois EPA and the Illinois Fire Marshal’s office oversaw the excavation and removal of an underground tank that was uncovered during a rail expansion along the Illinois Railway tracks bordering N. 2153 Road (LaSalle County 11). Illinois Railway hired a contractor to remove the liquid in the tank, clean the tank and remove the affected soil.
EPA oversaw an investigation conducted by Hoxsey property owners in August 2012 at the former Hoxsey gas station to determine if underground tanks or piping are still present. The investigation identified piping from the tanks on the property, but did not find tanks still underground. An additional investigation was set to be conducted by Illinois EPA at this property.