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Cleaning up DePue

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 1:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 1:55 p.m. CDT

DEPUE – Many concerns about the future testing of contamination on DePue residential properties were addressed during the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) meeting held Wednesday night with representatives from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Village President Eric Bryant recently informed the village board of the future testing. He explained when the time comes, an owner will first have to give permission to do any testing their property. If the tests read positive for contamination, remediation of the contaminated soils on the property will take place. He confirmed the process will include removing the contaminated soils and restoring the property grounds.

Each property owner that gives permission to testing will receive a certificate stating that property was cleaned of contamination or tested negative for any contamination.  On Wednesday, IEPA Project Manager Charlene Falco helped residents visualize how the process will take place, and he reassured community members that IEPA will host informational sessions, which will give a breakdown of how the cleanup in residential properties will take place.

“The IEPA will work with the tenants, to the extent feasible, to make sure your lives are not heavily disrupted by the investigation and the clean-up,” she said.

Falco said at the sessions, access agreements will be given out to every property owner, which will have to be signed by property owners to give permission for any testing.

“We’re going to make access agreements widely available to people,” she said. “It is an important step in this process.”

She explained the agreements will be placed in the library, post office, village hall and various other places where owners can get to them.

“When the access agreements go out, they won’t be floating around forever,” she warned.

Falco said there will only be a set amount of time for owners to sign the agreements.

“It won’t be just a week, but the window to sign those agreements won’t stay open forever,” she said.

A community member asked how it will be determined that new soil brought into the community will be clear of contamination.

“When it happens, the IEPA will have field people out here watching everything they do. We will verify where the material come from, what the analytical results are and how samples were taken of the soil,” replied Falco.

Another community member asked how properties will stay clean, while the factory and other sites will remain contaminated. Falco explained, that metals, which are the principle contamination associated with the site, don’t degrade and move.

“They tend to stay where their transported to,” she said. “The contaminated soil in the plant area is somewhat controlled through a re-vegetated area ... which does a good job at keeping (contaminates) in place. It still needs to be cleaned up, but (the contaminates aren’t) migrating off the plant area into the neighborhoods.”

Falco was met with concerns about how fast the entire clean-up process of the Superfund site will continue. She can see it being within the next five years.

“We’re having significant issues with the responsible parties. I’m moving this forward. The IEPA doesn’t necessarily have magic powers to make the DePue Group do what we want them to do,” she said. “The only way the process could go faster is if we just agreed to whatever the DePue Group wanted to do, or if the DePue Group agreed to everything we wanted them to do.”

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