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EPA Moves To De-List Bloomington Superfund Sites

A sign at the Monroe County PCB site.

(Tyler Lake, WTIU/WFIU News)

The Environmental Protection Agency took steps this month to begin delisting three Bloomington superfund sites from the EPA’s National Priorities List.

Soil at Neal’s landfill, Lemon Lane landfill and Bennet Stone Quarry was contaminated when PCBs leaked from dumped capacitators used in electrical equipment manufactured by Westinghouse in the 1950s.

When CBS/Viacom bought Westinghouse, it became responsible for a cleanup effort spanning more than 35 years across the three sites.

Tom Alcamo of the EPA said the move to delist the sites means CBS has completed all its required construction activities. That means excavating contaminated material, installing a landfill cap and building a water treatment system.

“But what it doesn't mean is we're walking away. CBS still has major requirements to implement on all three sites,” Alcamo said. “For example, at the Lemon Lane site, they still have to run the water treatment system, they have to do all the maintenance, they still have to do long term monitoring.”

READ MORE: Bloomington's PCB History: Officials Confident In Cleanup But Hesitant To Issue 'All Clear'

In the neighborhood bordering the Lemon Lane landfill, some say the PCB issue is history. Others, though, are concerned the site isn’t as clean as it should be.

But Alcamo says 99.9% of the PCBs being released in the spring water there are captured, even in a big rain, thanks in part to the area’s karst geology. Spring water from Lemon Lane gets flushed to Illinois Central Spring about a half a mile away, where there’s a treatment plant.

“We have storage tanks there, and a 6,000-gallon-a-minute treatment system on site,” Alcamo said. “And we've never seen storms, greater or anywhere near 6,000 gallons a minute from that spring. So we are capturing that flushing effect,” he said. “That's one of the big concerns we have or had at Lemon Lane was capturing that flushing effect that increases the PCB concentrations.”  

READ MORE: How Toxic PCBs Are Contaminating Bloomington's Groundwater

He points to nearby wildlife as proof.

"We've seen PCB reductions in fish tissue in Clear Creek, and also the other creeks associated with the site," he said.

Alcamo says CBS and the EPA will continue to review each site to make sure state mandated discharge requirements continue to be met. If PCBs or other contaminants are discovered anew, he says they will address remedies.

“You know, I cannot see shutting those plants off for many, many, many, many, many years," he said.

City of Bloomington Communications Director Yael Ksander refers to environmental remediation as “a slow walk” that includes community vigilance.

“We have a very robust history of activism here with regard to this cleanup,” she said, “and that should certainly continue.”

Ksander said the City encourages residents to educate themselves about each Bloomington superfund site and share their views with the EPA during a public comment period that runs through June 14.

Have comments or concerns? Contact the EPA at the links below.

Bennett Dump (Quarry) | Lemon Lane | Neal’s Landfill

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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