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US EPA Announces Cleanup of Asarco Site

The area once was home to  the world’s largest lead smelter and in its day, when Asarco pumped out paychecks and put food on the table, it had a lot of positive impact. Then when it closed, the legacy became less and less nostalgic as the years have passed. Local leaders have sought a cleanup of the site far beyond their means. Yesterday, the US EPA announced a breakthrough on that front. The Asarco site was among sites chosen for cleanup in a third and final wave of cleanups under a one billion dollar effort nationwide. Asarco is among 25 new Superfund cleanup projects.  EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “This final round of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has made it possible for EPA to initiate clean ups at every single Superfund site where construction work is ready to begin. This is an incredible milestone in our efforts to clean up and protect communities, deliver local jobs, enhance economic activity, and improve people’s lives for years to come.”    

“Alongside Illinois’ rich industrial history lies the sobering reality of polluted sites that pose significant risks to public health and the environment,” said Sen. Dick Durbin. “This federal funding is critical in our mission to restore contaminated sites for the benefit of every Illinois resident and safeguard the surrounding ecosystems.”  

“I’m proud to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is continuing to support critical projects throughout Illinois, and I’m pleased this Superfund site in Montgomery County, Illinois, will benefit,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth. “Eliminating contaminated sites is an important part of protecting the health of children and families, and it is also a necessary part of helping spur development, job creation and economic growth for affected communities. I’ll keep working to help ensure that all Illinoisans can breathe clean air and live in a safe environment without fear of toxins and pollution.”  

“Illinois EPA is pleased to see this federal funding being directly applied to the Asarco Superfund site in Taylor Springs, Illinois,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim.  “With no required state match, 100 percent of this funding will go directly to remediating this site, which is a win for Illinois residents.”  

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, cleanup will begin at the Asarco Taylor Springs Superfund site. EPA completed the remedial investigation and feasibility study phase of the Superfund process in 2021 and issued a proposed cleanup plan for public comment in June 2021. Funding will be used to remediate lead- contaminated soil, process residues, and groundwater at the site. For the residential areas, this involves the excavation of contaminated soil and backfilling with clean soil.  At the former smelter property, cleanup includes excavation of source materials and lake dams and spillways repair to prevent release of contaminated material and protect aquatic habitat.