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Congressional District # 02


EPA ID# ILD000716852
Last Updated: November, 2011

Site Description

The Lake Calumet Cluster site (LCCS) is a group of several land and waste storage/disposal facilities located in southeastern Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. The site is approximately 87 acres in size and is bordered by the Paxton I Landfill to the north, Land-and-Lakes #3 Landfill to the west, the Norfolk and Western Railroad right-of-way to the east, and 122nd Street to the south.  The LCC site consists of the following individual areas: Alburn Incinerator, Unnamed Parcel, U.S. Drum II, and the Paxton Avenue Lagoons.

Prior to 1949, the site consisted primarily of wetlands.  However, activities up to the 1970s, before enactment of the major environmental laws, the wetlands here were used for filling and dumping.   The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) have conducted numerous investigations at the site which document soil, sediment, and groundwater contamination in the four areas.  

The Alburn Incinerator Parcel received slag and various forms of bulk waste and was used for staging, storing, incinerating, and illegally dumping wastes.  The Unnamed Parcel is classified as an unpermitted landfill by the State of Illinois.  It received various municipal, industrial, and chemical wastes,  The U.S. Drum parcel was used as a dumping ground for industrial and municipal wastes.  The Paxton Area Lagoons were used as a dump by nearby steel mills in the 1940s. 

Alburn Incinerator

This 35 acre parcel, which has become known as the Alburn Incinerator, does not actually still contain an incinerator.  It is a piece of land that was used as landfill from 1967 to 1977.  The company that ran the landfill applied for an incinerator permit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1979.  RCRA is the federal law enacted to manage the generation, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste. In 1982, the permit was revoked due to violations of its permit requirements.  The company operating this facility stored and incinerated hazardous waste and sludge, including paints, thinners, varnishes, chlorinated solvents, styrene, ink, adhesives, waste oils, antifreeze, petroleum, coal tar, and waste solvents. 

Unnamed Parcel

This 38 acre area consists of an unpermitted landfill.  It is believed that this area received various municipal, industrial, and chemical waste materials from the 1940s to the 1960s.

U.S. Drum II

This is a 2.5 acre area which was used from the 1940s to the 1970s as a dump for industrial and municipal waste.  In the mid-1970s, it was used as a hazardous waste and petroleum recovery facility until a fire in July 1975.  In 1979, a waste drum temporary storage and transfer facility operated in this location. 

Paxton Area Lagoons

The lagoons were active in the 1940s, accepting a variety of chemical wastes from nearby steel mills.  Drums were also alleged to have been buried here. 

Numerous field investigations have been performed by US EPA and Illinois EPA.  Since 1998, a total of 123 surface soil samples and 19 subsurface soil samples have been collected and analyzed.  Additionally, 145 test pit excavations have been performed.  In addition, groundwater monitoring wells were installed and sampled for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and metals.

Site Responsibility

This site has been addressed through both federal and state actions. 

Threats and Contaminants

Surface soil, subsurface soil, and groundwater data showed significant concentrations (over regulatory standards or human health risk criteria) of hazardous substances including, but not limited to:  arsenic, barium, chromium, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, naphthalene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, and dibenz(a,h)athracene.  In addition, sediment and/or surface water contains arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, and pesticides.  Test pit soils contained several contaminants at concentrations exceeding their respective Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives (TACO) Tier 1 Soil Remediation Objectives.  Test pits contained varieties of household hazardous waste, medical waste, and industrial waste. 

Cleanup Progress

Multiple source control/hot spot actions were implemented at the site by either Illinois EPA or US EPA between 1979 and 1993 as follows:

Alburn Incinerator

US EPA performed a removal action in 1983 to remove all visible sources of hazardous materials from the site subsequent to the explosion of two drums on the facility.  In addition, the top 6 inches of soil was removed and covered. 

US Drum II

In 1979, 34,100 gallons of liquid and semisolid wastes were removed from the property.  However 1,750 drums were left within earthen berms.  US EPA performed a removal action between 1984 and 1985.  All observable drums, 435 cubic yards of contaminated soil, and 62,000 gallons of standing water were removed. 

Paxton Area Lagoons

Illinois EPA removed 60 drums of hazardous materials and 2,200 cubic yards of soil.  The lagoon area was capped with clay. 

In addition, Illinois EPA implemented the work required to complete a streamlined Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the site in accordance with US EPA's Presumptive Remedy guidance.

Illinois EPA solicited public comment for "The Proposed Plan for Cleanup at the Lake Calumet Cluster Site, Chicago, Illinois" published June 23, 2006.

The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Soil Operable Unit was signed on September 25, 2006.  The remedy called for capping of the site with a low-permeability, 35 Illinois Administrative Code Part 724  Clay Cap, a gas collection system, a drainage collection layer, a protective vegetative cover, and a monitoring program. 

Illinois EPA completed the design of the cap in Spring of 2007 and construction activities began shortly thereafter. As of the winter of 2008, the grading layer has been completed. In Spring 2009, the Illinois EPA ran out of money to finish the cap construction. Shortly thereafter, the Illinois EPA entered into negotiations with the PRPs to finish cap construction and to investigate the extent of groundwater contamination at the Site. When Illinois EPA was unable to reach an agreement with the PRPs to complete the remedy, Illinois EPA asked US EPA to finalize the Site on the National Priorities List (NPL), which was done on April 5, 2010.   In December 2010, US EPA became the lead agency for the site. 

Community Involvement

As the lead agency, US EPA will update the community once a year or more if requested.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
shari kolak (kolak.shari@epa.gov)
(312) 886-6151

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




Site Profile Information

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


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