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New strategies

DePue Exxon Mobil site manager discusses options

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 2:53 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 2:56 p.m. CDT
Caption
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
Joe Abel, Exxon Mobil’s DePue Site Manager, explains how the current water treatment system functions at the gypsum stack area, located north of DePue’s residential area. Abel sat down earlier this week to discuss new plans being set by Exxon Mobil that will provide more efficient treatment of ground water and water runoff at the gypsum stack.

DEPUE — Exxon Mobil is developing improvement plans to better regulate its areas linked to DePue’s Superfund site.

Earlier this week, Exxon Mobil’s DePue site manager Joe Abel sat down to discuss the new strategies meant to better handle water run-off and water treatment at the gypsum stack area, located north of the village,

“From a conventional standpoint, we’re able to treat water as well as it should be, but some day we would like to get out of treating water,” he said. “The goal is to get out of this so that these wetlands can just be wetlands, and we don’t have to collect the water runoff.”

Right now, half of the gypsum stack area is covered in Fescue grass, while the other is covered in native prairie grass. Abel explained the reasoning behind this was when Exxon Mobil began capping the stack area, they planted the Fescue grass as it was determined to be the best cover at the time. Halfway through the process, the U.S. EPA came out with a new regulation stating that native prairie grass was a better cover, as precipitation is able to seep through the Fescue grass cap. Because water absorbs past the ground cover, Exxon Mobil has to treat that ground water before it’s discharged.

The new plan is to cap the entire area in native prairie grass, which will allow more precipitation runoff rather than it being absorbed into the ground.

The water will run off, stay clean, run through the storm system as it should, and it will reduce the amount of water Exxon Mobil’s treatment system will have to collect, according to Abel.

Representatives of Exxon Mobil are looking to modify the cover on the north side of the gypsum stack by November.

“We expect that the agency (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency) will take maybe a month or two to get through it, and we’ll go out and have a public meeting and present it to the public and get community feedback. We’re hoping to have approval some time soon in 2015 to move forward with the plan,” Abel said.

Once Exxon Mobil gets the go ahead to move forward, Abel said they will spend 2015 creating a detailed plan for the project.

“We have to know how we are going to shape the other side (of the gypsum stack) and what kind of cover material to use and go out and get bids and get everything set up for our final monitoring requirements,” he said. “Then we will be monitoring that for as long as it takes until we no longer have ground water impacts beyond our property line.”

On another note, Abel said while Exxon Mobil and CBS Operations have no plans to utilize the property of where the old Zinc Works factory sat, they do have interests in looking to meet requirements needed for future owners to utilize the property.

“It’s an interesting challenge,” Abel said. “It’s beyond us but in working with the community, agency, and elected officials in the state to try and help along with economic development, but we’re certainly willing and happy to work with anybody who might be interested in using the land in the future.”

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