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Wedron Groundwater Contamination Site

Site Information
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Heriberto León (leon.heriberto@epa.gov)
312-886-6163 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66163

On-Scene Coordinator
Steven Faryan (faryan.steven@epa.gov)
312-353-9351 or 800-621-8431, ext. 39351

Remedial Project Manager
Illinois EPA

John Richardson
1021 N. Grand Ave. East
P.O Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276

Photo Gallery
Click to see photos of the site

Site Update

December 2013

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.

September 2013

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.

April 2013

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:

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.

Site History

In April 1982, Illinois EPA began a groundwater investigation in Wedron after the Illinois Department of Public Health received complaints from several residents of gasoline-type odors in their private well water. Illinois EPA collected groundwater samples from several private wells in April 1982, June 1983 and August 1983 and confirmed the presence of chemicals found in gasoline. At that time, a new deeper well was drilled to provide clean drinking water to the affected homes. In addition, an investigation of several potential sources of contamination was completed, but no source was found.

Site Description

The site is the unincorporated community of Wedron located in LaSalle County, Ill.  The site is located in a mixed rural, residential, and industrial area. North of the site are residential homes, agriculture, and undeveloped land.  To the east are the Fox River, agriculture, and undeveloped land.  To the south are the Wedron Silica sand-mining facility and mining pits; and to the west are two Wedron Silica quarries, agriculture, and undeveloped land.  Current and former commercial and industrial properties known at the site include the Fairmount Minerals Ltd., Wedron Silica Mining Co., Illinois Railway railroad company, the former Hoxsey gas station, and the former W.D. Grain Co.


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