SPRINGFIELD— Illinois EPA announced that it has completed arrangements for removal of approximately 42,000 cubic yards of various non-hazardous wastes and debris from an illegal 12-acre-plus dump site on the south side of Markham, and plans to begin work today. If weather conditions allow, the cleanup should be completed by the end of June.
The dump site is bound by 159th Street on the north, Dixie Highway on the east, the Calumet-Union Drainage Canal on the south, and Western Avenue on the west. It appears that illegal dumping has taken place over several decades.
“This may be the largest illegal dump site the Agency has encountered,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott. “I’m grateful that, with the help of the Village of Markham, the Attorney General and several other agencies, we can work toward a cleanup of this environmental and public health hazard.”
The Illinois EPA became aware of the open dumping when it was contacted on April 7, 2010 regarding a tire fire. Subsequent inspections revealed discarded boat hulls, mobile homes, construction and demolition debris, drums and totes with unknown liquids, swimming pool chemicals, unidentified gas cylinders and various other wastes.
In addition to the various non-hazardous disposed items and chemicals, the site had tens of thousands of discarded tires that tend to hold water and become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. Examination by the Illinois Department of Public Health revealed two species of mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus and two species that carry a form of encephalitis. The Illinois EPA immediately began making arrangements to apply a chemical to kill the larvae, and remove more than 25,000 tires. The tire removal at the site began the week of May 31, and will continue during the debris removal as additional tires are uncovered. To date, more than 7000 tires have been removed.
Illinois EPA also requested the Calumet Union Drainage District clean up the drainage ditch on the south side of the site, since this area also provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The Illinois EPA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are discussing disposal options for removal of various hazardous substances at the site.