Waukegan Superfund Cleanup Begins

Cleanup work made possible with $18.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds is now under way at the former site of Outboard Marine Corp. in Waukegan. OMC is one of 51 superfund sites across the nation to benefit from Recovery Act funding.

OMC declared bankruptcy in 2000 and legally abandoned the property two years later. The city of Waukegan now owns the harbor property. Cleanup work includes removal of asbestos-containing materials and demolition of a 600,000 square-foot PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl)-contaminated building.

The project is managed by U.S. EPA Region 5 in consultation with Illinois EPA. The entire project should be completed by the end of the year.

OMC’s Plant 2 facility discharged PCB-containing hydraulic and lubricating oils into Waukegan Harbor, which flows into Lake Michigan, in the 1960’s and 1970’s. PCBs are a group of toxic chemicals that were widely used by industry as coolants, insulators and lubricants, but concern many today because they concentrate in the food chain, resulting in health hazards to people, fish and wildlife. Congress banned the manufacture of PCBs in 1976, and PCBs still in use are strictly regulated.

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