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Great Lakes AOCs

Waukegan Harbor AOC

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Nicholas Green

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Waukegan Harbor was designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  Of the six environmental impairments that were originally present, three remain.  EPA supports monitoring and evaluation determining when environmental conditions are restored, enabling AOC delisting.

AOC Boundaries

The Waukegan Harbor AOC is in Lake County, Illinois, on the western shore of Lake Michigan. An Expanded Study Area (ESA) was added to explore additional concerns of the citizens beyond the AOC. The ESA is bounded by:

  • Dead River to the north
  • A bluff line parallel to Sheridan Road to the west
  • The southern boundary of the former U.S. Steel property to the south
  • The nearshore waters of Lake Michigan to the east.

A natural inlet and portions of adjacent wetlands were filled to form the present shape of the harbor. Waukegan Harbor consists of approximately 1.2 square kilometers of industrial, commercial, municipal and open/vacant lands.

Sources of Pollution

In 1975, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were discovered in Waukegan Harbor sediments. Bioaccumulation of PCBs found in the heavily contaminated harbor sediments lead to contamination of fish in Waukegan Harbor.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

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General information about BUIs: Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

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Remediation and Restoration Work

EPA has continually worked with federal, state and local partners to execute remediation and restoration work in the area with the ultimate goal of removing the AOC designation and revitalizing the surrounding communities.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Chicago District

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