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Bringing in the big guns in DePue

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 4:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 5:16 p.m. CDT

DEPUE — A former DePue native is continuing his efforts to get the Superfund site in DePue cleaned up.

On Thursday, Ron Actis said the Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been asked to investigate EPA Region 5 for its failure to oversee and enforce a 1995 Interim consent order pertaining to the Superfund site at the former New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical plant in DePue. The Office of the Inspector General is charged with overseeing the agency’s programs to ensure that requirements are met in Superfund cleanups.

Actis, a native of DePue and Michigan-based consultant who helped form the DePue Action Committee for cleanup of the site, is now working independently on the cleanup cause. He said the purpose of the request is to help the people of DePue make their case about the situation and its negative impact on the village’s economy and residents’ property values.

Actis said the action came after he saw a series of news reports about contamination from lead smelters in several U.S. communities.

“The series gained the interest of the U.S. EPA inspector general and a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, so I decided to inform them and the U.S. Department of Justice about the status of the Superfund site in DePue,” Actis said. “Unlike the lead smelter communities, the DePue site has a court-approved mandate for cleanup which has been violated for 17 years, and it should receive immediate attention.”  

The consent order, approved by Judge James Wimbiscus on Nov. 6, 1995, involves the current responsible parties, the ExxonMobil and CBS corporations. The order mandates the responsible parties conduct specific activities which deal with cleanup of toxic materials from zinc smelter operations which ran from 1903 to 1971.

Actis said that the inspector general’s office should be able to right the wrongs in DePue and urged it to take immediate action to initiate the start of Lake DePue and village remediation and removal of the 750,000-ton slag pile.

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