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Cleaning up the neighborhood

DEPUE — As the fight continues to clean-up DePue’s Superfund Site, the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) is close to completing a work plan with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to test and remediate contamination in DePue’s residential properties.

“We just think it’s crazy where we live and our kids play still hasn’t been cleaned up,” DePue Village President Eric Bryant said. 

At Monday’s village board meeting, Bryant explained parts of the work plan to board members and said the village will have to first get approval from all property owners to perform the testing for contamination. The properties that test positive will undergo a contamination remediation process at the expense of the responsible parties, which include Viacom International Incorporated/CBS and ExxonMobil Corporation.

The remediation process will involve digging into the yard and replacing contaminated soil with non-contaminated soil. Once all contamination is remediated, the property owner will receive a certificate stating that the property is cleared.

“We have been a Superfund site for 17 years, so everybody knows,” Bryant said. “If you sell your property in town, you’ll need that sheet of paper to at least get a decent sale for your property.” 

Bryant suspected the properties closer to where the old New Jersey Zinc Co. once stood would have to undergo the remediation process, however, he wasn’t able to make certain of one specific area of the village that held most of the contamination. He said performing the tests will be the safest way to figure out which areas are contaminated.

The village’s goal is to get every property owner a clean bill of health.

Currently, the work plan states if a property tests clean and no remediation is needed, the property owner will not receive a certificate, however, Bryant said the village is pushing to rework the plan so all properties will have some sort of proof that it’s clear of contamination.

If a property owner refuses to have testing performed, the property will not receive a clean bill of health.

“It doesn’t make sense to me to not have your property tested,” Bryant said. “We strongly encourage all property owners to give permission for the testing.”

According to him, the IEPA has said some residents in other Superfund sites have declined to have their properties tested, and although it’s voluntary, in the long term they could experience difficulties selling properties without the certificate stating that some kind of testing or remediation of contamination had been performed.

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