WAUKEGAN – October 28, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today visited Waukegan to announce $10 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to fund the continued cleanup of the Waukegan Harbor. The project involves dredging and disposing of contaminated sediments from the former Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) Superfund Site.
“For years, the Waukegan Harbor has been in desperate need of major environmental cleanup work so it can once again be a valuable resource to the community,” said Governor Quinn. “I would like to thank the U.S. EPA for this funding, which gives us the tools to restore the harbor and turn it into something that will attract long-term economic growth and new jobs in the Waukegan area.”
The U.S. EPA is providing an initial $10 million to start the new project that involves using hydraulics to dredge sediment from the harbor, which was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) from the former OMC facility. The state’s 10 percent match was supported by federal credits. The project is anticipated to take three years to complete.
Waukegan Harbor is the only “International Area of Concern” in Illinois under the International Water Quality Agreement between the U.S. and Canada. The first cleanup of the harbor occurred in 1991, but a review in 2002 found that PCB levels were still high.
“This ongoing dredging and other cleanup work is another step in the ecological recovery of the harbor that addresses that concern,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.
Other cleanup work already completed or underway includes pumping and treating groundwater to reduce the levels of arsenic, phenol and ammonia; and demolition of the OMC Plant 2 building. The rubble from the demolition was then separated based on levels of contamination and disposal requirements.
“The City of Waukegan is very grateful for the level of support the final cleanup of the Waukegan Harbor has received from the state of Illinois. The contribution was the result of many hours of hard work by the IEPA and the Federal EPA and was the final piece that made this project possible. Our thanks also go out to Governor Quinn for his steadfast support for this effort, which will lead to Waukegan finally being delisted as the last Area of Concern along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline,” said Waukegan Mayor Robert Sabonjian.
Outboard Marine Corporation was once one of Waukegan’s largest employers. For approximately 30 years, PCBs from the company leaked into the harbor, resulting in the area’s designation as a Superfund site. In 1993, one million pounds of PCBs were removed from the harbor; however, PCB-contaminated materials have remained on the harbor floor since then.