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EPA in Illinois

S.H. Bell Chicago Facility

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Update-October 2018

Air Monitoring

EPA Cites S.H. Bell for Manganese Air Pollution in ChicagoS.H. Bell- Outdoor Bulk Material Storage Pile
April 25, 2014
U.S. EPA staff continues to inspect S.H. Bell’s Chicago facility to confirm the company is complying with federal and state regulations. S.H. Bell is operating and maintaining air monitors at the facility. EPA reviews and publishes the results of the monitoring each month. (For the latest data, see S.H. Bell Chicago Air Monitoring Data.) Since EPA issued the S.H. Bell Chicago Notice of Violation - August 2017 (PDF) (5pp, 648K, About PDF)  and engaged in settlement negotiations with S.H. Bell, the average manganese concentration between September 2017 through July 2018 (11 months) is 0.089 µg/m3. That is below the minimal risk level for chronic inhalation exposure to manganese, which is 0.3 μg/m3.


Soil Sampling

S.H. Bell- Outdoor Bulk Material Storage PileS.H. Bell- Outdoor Bulk Material Storage Pile
August 16, 2017

U.S. EPA is performing targeted soil sampling of residential yards near the S.H. Bell facility in the area between the Calumet River to the West, South Ewing Avenue to the East, 100th Street to the North and 104th Street to the South. EPA reached out to homeowners within the boundaries this year to obtain permission to sample their yards. All properties from which the Agency received agreements may not necessarily be sampled. Read EPA Set to Sample Soil in Southeast Chicago Area - May 2018 (PDF)(2pp, 11K, About PDF)

Since May 2018, EPA has collected soil samples from over 100 residential properties. EPA plans to conduct additional assessment activities in the area through October 2018 to evaluate potential sources and the extent of soil contamination. EPA is mailing all property owners their validated results as they become available and expects to have all results mailed before the end of this year. The community involvement coordinator also contacts homeowners in English and Spanish to explain their results and how to best protect their families from potential lead and manganese contamination. EPA will continue to work in the next few months with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to review all the 2018 soil sampling data and evaluate possible cleanup levels and cleanup actions.

Validated data results from EPA’s soil sampling study for this site are now available.

SH Bell site boundary map.Agency Response

U.S. EPA has been studying air in Chicago’s East side since 2013 in response to residents’ concerns about the area’s long industrial history.  The Agency has inspected the S.H. Bell Company facility, which is located in the neighborhood, several times since 2014. As a result, the company has installed a particulate matter ambient air monitoring network on site. S. H. Bell Company handles, stores and processes industrial materials, including metals. EPA is committed to investigating sources of pollution, fugitive dust, and toxic metals in Southeast Chicago, including conducting inspections, issuing Section 114 Information Requests, and taking appropriate enforcement action. (Learn about EPA enforcement in The Clean Air Act in a Nutshell: How It Works (PDF) (23pp, 250 K, About PDF, March 22, 2013))

U.S. EPA is working with the City of Chicago and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to determine if residential properties near the S.H. Bell facility have elevated levels of heavy metals, including manganese and lead, in soils.  In 2018 the Agency began conducting residential soil sampling in response to a request from the City of Chicago received in April 2018. Earlier in 2018, the City of Chicago Department of Public Health had collected limited soil samples in an area near the S.H. Bell facility, and some sample results indicated elevated manganese levels.

U.S. EPA interviewed residents and community advocates this summer to identify and address community concerns that relate to the facility’s impact on the community. The Agency will develop a community involvement plan to program appropriate outreach and informational activities as it continues its work in the neighborhood in the coming months.

Advice for Residents