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Will it finally happen?

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 8:44 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 8:45 p.m. CST

DEPUE — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has approved a revised schedule for the cleanup of contamination at the former New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Superfund site.

The IEPA announced the approval of the revised schedule in a press release issued Monday.

The schedule was submitted by the DePue Group, which consists of CBS Corporation and the ExxonMobil Corporation, the parties responsible under Superfund and a State Interim Consent Order for cleaning up the site.

The revised schedule will require work at the Superfund site to move forward in a “timely manner with enforceable deadlines.”

“This approved schedule contains more detail and is transparent,” said IEPA spokesperson Maggie Carson on Tuesday. “The schedule is also enforceable.”

Village President Eric Bryant was glad to hear of the approval. He said they had been waiting to hear on this, as it had been in the works since last May.

Bryant said the schedule is all positive.

“We always want things done sooner, but we want them done right,” he said.

Bryant said time restraints were already established in the interim consent agreement approved in 1995 between the state and the owners of the site. The village has complained there has not been compliance with the consent order.

“I hope this is more meaningful,” Bryant said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The village has been working for more than a year to force something to be done with the site, which included a primary zinc smelter and other industrial operations in the early 1900s. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s involvement in the site began with a preliminary assessment in December 1980. In March 1992, an expanded site inspection was conducted by the Illinois EPA, revealing elevated levels of metals, including zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and copper.

The new approved schedule, which can be found at http://goo.gl/k5jWR, sets a lengthy list of tasks to be completed, the party responsible, and the due dates. Upcoming cleanup milestones include submitting a design study for off-site soils in early March and revision of a human health risk assessment for Lake DePue by the end of March. The schedule is based on time frames defined in the Interim Consent Order between the state of Illinois and the DePue Group.

Bryant said the people of DePue are getting more and more frustrated.

“I don’t know what their response will be to this,” he said. “I just hope the time frames are met, and we can get some things moving.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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