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U.S. EPA REGION 5
MADISON COUNTY
GRANITE CITY

Congressional District # 12

NL INDUSTRIES/TARACORP LEAD SMELTER

EPA ID# ILD096731468
Last Updated: January, 2012

Site Description

NL Industries/Taracorp (NL) is located in Granite City, Illinois. NL operated a secondary lead smelter from the turn of the century until 1983. Lead contamination from that operation has spread throughout 100 square blocks in three cities, affecting approximately 1,600 residences, including the areas where contaminated battery chips were used to fill in low-lying areas. At this site, there is a documented risk to public health from the exposure to lead; a blood study in the communities indicated that 16 percent of children in the study area and 25 percent of the children living nearest to the site were experiencing blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter.  The contamination from the Site affected portions of Granite City, Madison, and Venice, Illinois.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through federal and potentially responsible parties' actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Potential health risks exist from direct contact and ingestion of lead-contaminated soils and crushed battery case materials, especially in the residential areas of the Site.  Groundwater in monitoring wells adjacent to a large slag pile was contaminated with heavy metals; however, this contamination does not migrate off-site. Granite City's municipal drinking water comes from the Mississippi River and is not affected by contaminated groundwater.

Cleanup Progress

A Record of Decision (ROD) was issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1990. The required cleanup consists of cleaning up residential properties to 500 ppm lead in soil; cleaning up industrial property to 1,000 ppm lead in soil; consolidation and capping of the 250,000 ton Taracorp pile on the main industrial site; and installing a groundwater collection/containment system. The estimated remedial cost is $60,000,000.

In 1991, EPA issued a unilateral administrative order (UAO) to the responsible parties (RPs), directing them to design and implement the selected remedy; however, the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) did not comply with the UAO. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the cleanup in spring 1993. In 1994, Granite City filed a court motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the EPA cleanup at the NL/Taracorp Superfund site. As part of the settlement of this motion, in August 1994, EPA agreed to reopen the administrative record, supporting the lead residential standard, and that no further residential yard cleanups would proceed until this reopening process was completed. In 1995, EPA issued a decision document/explanation of significant differences which reaffirmed the remedy, selected in the 1990 ROD of 500 ppm lead in soil as the cleanup level for the residential areas. On June 10, 1996, the PRPs and Granite City filed, for a second time, a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the EPA cleanup at the NL/Taracorp Superfund site. On August 22, 1996, the court denied the request of Granite City and the PRP defendants for a restraining order and preliminary injunction, seeking to stop EPA's cleanup of lead-contaminated residential yards.

The residential cleanups, including removal and capping of battery chip fill areas and capping the Taracorp pile, were completed by May 31, 2000.  Approximately 100 residences with battery chip contamination were remediated. Approximately 1500 residences, affected by stack emissions, were remediated.  U.S. EPA expended approximately $42,000,000 for the remediation work.  In July 1998, the generator defendants took over the remaining remedial work at the site; a consent decree with these parties has been entered, which provides for payment of $8,970,000 in past costs, $400,000 in civil penalties, and provides a $2,000,000 Supplemental Environmental Project to assess and address lead-based paint risks in the site area. A consent decree for past costs with the owner/operator NL Industries has been entered, which provides for the payment of $29,780,000 in past costs and a $1,000,000 civil penalty. In 2003, ENTACT, a consultant for the Generators at the site, collected soil samples and inspected the cap over the slag pile at the site in accordance with the approved O&M plan for the site. On September 5, 2003, ENTACT, the PRPs' contractor, submitted the "Five Year Review Final Report" for the site to EPA, which approved this report on October 2, 2003. This report utilizes the data in the ENTACT Report and provides an analysis of the protectiveness of the remedy implemented at the site. The findings indicate that the NL Industries/Taracorp Site remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment. An operation and maintenance (O&M) plan was written and is being implemented for the site. 

Five-Year Reviews for the Site are on-going since the remedy does not allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. The third five-year review was completed by EPA and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) in March 2009.  That review determined that the remedy 1) remained protective of human health and the environment in the short-term and 2) follow-up actions are necessary to address long-term protectiveness of the remedy.  Those actions included the need to conduct minor cap repairs, to access the spread of battery chips from a capped area on Slough Road, to implement effective institutional controls (ICs), and to prepare a long-term stewardship plan.  The cap repairs were completed in 2009.   The other actions are on-going.  Long term protectiveness also requires maintenance of the site remedy components.  The actions regarding implmentation of ICs are included in an IC Work Plan.  ICs must be implemented in the areas where contamination remains; those areas include former industrial Site including the capped pile, alleys and roadways in Venice, Madison and Eagle Park Acres and on Slough Road where battery casings and chips may still exist and residential properties which have not been cleaned up.  Also, compliance with ICs will be ensured through long-term stewardship of the ICs by ensuring hat the ICs are maintained, monitored and enforced along. EPA will continue to work with the PRP Group to approve the IC Work plan and oversee its implementation. 

Additionally, approximately 85 properties were never cleaned to the recommended action level for lead since access was not granted by the respective residents.  The responsible parties, under direction from the EPA, have been contacting the residents to determine if they will grant access for the work.  For those properties to which access was granted, the soil has been sampled to determine if it exceeds the cleanup levels.  Decisions will be made whether the soil in those yards is elgible for remediation to remove elevated lead levels.    

Other Five-Year Review follow-up actions may include monitoring of residential yards that are adjacent to yards where the residents refused access for the cleanup, and follow-up actions are necessary to fulfill the Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to address lead-based paint issues in the Site area. EPA will continue to monitor the progress of SEP. 

The next or fourth Five-Year Review Report is due by March 2014. 

Success Story

Members of the public helped to make the cleanup a success by showing their support for the remedy both by granting access for the cleanup in their yards and by showing up in court to support the cleanup.  The city of Granite City was an intervenor-defendant in EPA's lawsuit against the PRPs and opposed EPA's selected remedy.  Residents of Granite City signed petitions and showed up in court to support the cleanup. 

Community Involvement

The community was very involved in the decision-making phase of the site.  The city of Granite City opposed the remedy during the public comment period for the 1990 ROD, while the cities of Madison and Venice supported the selected remedy.  The community was necessarily involved in the cleanup, which affected approximately 1,500 residences and over 100 driveways, alleys, and parking lots.

Congressional Interest

Congressional interest was fairly high during the early 1990s, when the site cleanup was starting and EPA was involved in litigation with the potentially responsible parties to implement the remedy outlined in the 1990 ROD.  Since then, congressional interest has been fairly low.

Property Reuse

A portion of the area affected by the site, located in Venice, Illinois, has been reused as an intermodal terminal.  There are no current plans for reuse of the main industrial portion of the Site.

Contacts

Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
sheri bianchin (bianchin.sheri@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4745

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
janet pope
(312) 353-0628

Aliases

NL INDUSTRIES/TARACORP LEAD SMELT SITE
HOYT PLT
TARACORP IND GRANITE CITY PLT
NATIONAL LEAD TARACORP

 

Site Profile Information

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

 


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