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EPA plans more sampling near Hegeler Superfund site; open house and public meeting May 28

Release Date: 05/18/2009
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, Virginia Narsete, 312-886-4359,

No. 09-OPA089

(Chicago, Ill. - May 18, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 will begin another round of soil sampling this summer and fall in yards and properties near the former Hegeler Zinc smelter, in Hegeler, near Danville, Ill. The samples-small plugs of grass and soil-will be tested for arsenic and other metals. On Thursday, May 28, at Westville High School, 918 N. State St., EPA and the Vermilion County Health Department will host an open house from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a public meeting with a formal presentation from 6 to 8 p.m.

EPA has begun contacting residents and property owners in this neighborhood, asking them to sign access agreements that give EPA permission to collect samples. During the first phase of testing in December 2007, 107 properties were tested. Analysis of those samples did not reveal enough information to determine conclusively whether the contamination came from the Hegeler Zinc site. On a positive note, this analysis found that, based on soil contamination levels, residents near the site do not face an immediate health threat.

The site is a 100-acre property, three miles south of Danville and west of the village of Hegeler. The facility operated as a zinc smelter from 1906 to 1955. In 2005, the site was added to the National Priorities List, a roster of the nation's most hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup under EPA's Superfund program.

In addition to the current effort to collect off-site soil samples, in 2007 EPA completed an in-depth study to determine the extent of contamination at the former plant property. Since that time, EPA has segmented the site into three project areas, has negotiated an administrative order for one of them and is now negotiating administrative orders for the other two areas. These orders assign responsibility for completing environmental studies and proposing cleanup plans to companies that have legal and financial responsibility for the pollution. Detailed cleanup plans are expected to be completed by 2011. Though the effort is moving forward, one of the companies, Millennium Petrochemicals (and its corporate parent Lyondell Chemical), is now in the bankruptcy process. EPA plans to pursue a claim in bankruptcy court.

Residents with questions or who need special accommodations at the meeting may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Virginia Narsete, 800-621-8431, Ext. 64359. Site documents are on file at the Danville Public Library, 319 N. Vermilion St., and the Westville Public Library, 233 S. State St. Documents are also online at

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