EPA Responds to Hennepin Mayor and Checks Former Steel Plant
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“Our Bureau of Land staff will be meeting with Bureau of Air staff to discuss the findings and a final report will be completed,” said Kim Biggs, spokeswoman for the Illinois EPA. “There will be more information available in the coming days/weeks.”
The steel mill opened in the late 1960s and closed in 2009, and the property is now owned by Hennepin Industrial Development LLC. It previously operated under various names including ArcelorMittal.
The steel mill opened in the late '60s and closed in 2009, and the property is now owned by Hennepin Industrial Development LLC. While addressing guests last month at a business luncheon, village president Kevin Coleman said half of the building was torn down and several parties are involved in litigation over the site and its demolition. He also said he was worried about possible hazards and contaminants at the closed factory.
While addressing guests last month at a business luncheon, village president Kevin Coleman said half of the building was torn down and several parties are involved in litigation over the site and its demolition. He also said he was worried about possible hazards and contaminants at the closed factory.
This week Coleman said his worry came from his recent aerial views of the plant during a flyover. Among things he saw that prompted him to call the EPA, Coleman said, were waste treatment cells and materials lying on the ground.
“It was pretty awful,” he said. “In my position as the mayor I felt I could make a call and ask questions and hopefully get a response. I contacted the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in February.”
Old PCE issue
Coleman — who has been village president for 21 years and served on the Hennepin Public Water District board for about 28 years, chairman most of those years — remembers underground water contamination at the steel plant about 10 years ago, he said.
“Illinois Environmental Protection Agency helped us tremendously and pinpointed the location where this was coming from,” he said.
Referring to documents from the Hennepin Public Water District, Coleman said the water district received a letter in November 2009 from Illinois EPA that a contaminant posed a threat to public drinking water in Hennepin.
The contaminant of concern was tetrachloroethylene, aka perchloroethylene, perc or PCE. Tetrachloroethylene is used as a cleaner and solvent in dry cleaning fabrics and for degreasing metals.
The PCE was detected at more than 2.5 parts per billion, exceeding the Class I groundwater quality standard and warranting public notification. Some people who ingest water with PCE over long periods can experience adverse health effects, according to the EPA’s letter and notice from 2009.
“We were fortunate that our secondary well is three-quarters to 1 mile from the primary well,” Coleman said. “We were able to run our secondary well until they solved the problem.”
The steel mill had dumped this used solvent on steel mill land about a half-mile west of the plant, about 400 feet north of the water district plant, said Coleman, referring to a map.
This dump site had been cleaned up in the late ‘80s and early 1990s, Coleman said. However, by then, unknown quantities of PCE had seeped into the groundwater, he said.
The EPA installed a special recirculation pump at the water district plant in 2012, Coleman said. This continuous system pulls water out of the aquifer and aerates it, allowing the volatile PCE to evaporate and returning cleaned water to the aquifer.
Old Pickle liquor issue
In a separate incident, the Illinois EPA closed and plugged an underground injection well in 2014, which had been used by the factory to inject used pickle liquor deep underground. Pickle liquors are acid solutions used to clean metal.
Coleman said the mill’s underground injection well was so deep that it was far below the aquifer used for drinking water, he said.
Source: News Tribune