Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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Cleanup Activities

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The Kerr-McGee (Kress Creek/West Branch of DuPage River) site is one of four Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) sites in the West Chicago area contaminated with radioactive thorium wastes. The radioactive waste came from a nearby facility known as the Rare Earths Facility (REF). The REF, operated by Lindsay Light and Chemical Company and its successors from 1932 until 1973, produced non-radioactive elements known as rare earths and radioactive elements such as thorium, radium and uranium along with gas lantern mantles for private entities and federal atomic energy programs. Site cleanup finished in October 2012.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site was being addressed through potentially responsible party (PRP) actions until January 2009, when Tronox (formerly Kerr-McGee) filed for bankruptcy. EPA successfully negotiated a settlement of environmental claims that established the West Chicago Environmental Response Trust, with Weston serving as Trustee, to complete cleanup work. The cleanup will be funded through legally required DOE reimbursements of site cleanup expenditures. If the West Chicago Trust is unable to complete the work with DOE funding, EPA may be forced to complete the cleanup as a Fund-lead remedial action using Superfund money.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site includes almost seven miles of creek and river sediment, banks and floodplain soils contaminated with radioactive thorium residue. It includes about a mile and a half of Kress Creek stretching from a storm sewer outlet to where the creek empties into the West Branch of the DuPage River. From there, the site stretches about five miles down the West Branch of the DuPage River past the Warrenville Dam to the McDowell Dam.

Between 2005 and 2012, cleanup removed more than 129,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment from the creek and river. Cleanup finished in October 2012 at a total cost of $144 million. Maintenance and monitoring of site restoration will continue until 2016. Then, the site will be eligible for deletion from the NPL, provided the West Chicago Trust receives U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Title X funding.

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