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EPA in Illinois

Pilsen Area Soil Site

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April 2018

Contractors for H. Kramer & Co resume work to remove lead-contaminated soil in Operable Unit (OU) 2 (1pp, 1.5MB, About PDF)of the Pilsen Area Soils site this month. They plan to continue cleanup of at least 10 additional residential properties for which EPA has received access agreements. As of end of the construction season in December 2017, H. Kramer's contractors, GHD and RW Collins, had addressed 54 homes as required under U.S. EPA's unilateral order (70pp, 6.5MB , About PDF)issued in September 2016.

Sod laid down on lawn after removal and replacement of lead contaminated soil.
EPA is overseeing the cleanup of lead-contaminated soil in the residential area referred to as Operable Unit 2 of the Pilsen Area Soils site. The cleanup work began in December 2016 and consists of contractors from H. Kramer & Co. excavating, removing and disposing lead-contaminated soil from residential yards in the target area. Excavated areas are backfilled with clean soil and sod or gravel depending on the homeowner’s preference.

Site Activities

OU 2 consists of an area of residential properties in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood where surface soil contaminated with lead may be attributed to H. Kramer & Co. – a brass and bronze foundry located at 1345 West 21st Street in Chicago – through air deposition from the facility’s emissions. The area is in the predominant downwind location of H. Kramer. U.S. EPA needs property owners to give their permission for the removal work by signing an access agreement  (1pp, 16K, About PDF). After coordinating with property owners who have signed the form, H. Kramer & Co. conducts the cleanup.

Cleanup consists of excavating contaminated dirt in the yards and gardens of homes with lead in surface soil greater than 400 parts lead per million parts soil. Engineering controls such as dust suppression and monitoring are set to protect workers and residents. The soil is disposed of at a permitted disposal facility. Yards are filled in with clean soil and restored to their original condition as much as possible.

Site Description

Operable Unit 1 (OU1): OU1 consists of an east-west alley between West 21st Street and West Cermak Road and between South Loomis and South Throop Streets. It also includes a railway spur that begins on South Laflin Street just north of the Benito Juarez Community Academy athletic field and ending on West Cermak Road just east of South Loomis Street. (See map of Areas 1 through 10 representing segments along the spur and alley.) Areas 1 and 2 stretch east-west just north of the school’s athletic field. Those two areas have separate work plans for areas owned by BNSF and the city of Chicago.

Operable Unit 2 (OU2) (1 p, 1.49MB, About PDF): OU2 is a residential area bounded by West 18th Place to the north, a north-south alley between South Allport Street and South Racine Avenue to the east, West 21st Street to the south, and South Loomis Street to the west. There are about 178 residential properties in this 25-acre OU2 site. About 121 of the properties have non-permanent covers in their yards such as bare soil, grass or gravel and are the focus of EPA actions.

Site Background

Pilsen Soil Operable Unit 2 Residential SiteMap of Pilsen Soil- Operable Unit 2- residential site. (PDF) (1 p, 1.49MB)

U.S. EPA has been investigating lead contamination in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood since 2011 in response to residents’ concerns about the area’s long industrial history.  The Agency conducted soil sampling in 2012 and 2013 and found high levels of soil lead collected from two residential areas, as well as from the alley and along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)-operated railroad spur between West 21st Street and West Cermak Road near the H. Kramer facility.

EPA continues to work closely with the City of Chicago and neighborhood organizations to provide information to residents about steps they can take to reduce exposure to lead contamination.

Pilsen Area Soils Past Site Updates