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Health, Science, Environment

EPA to start removing toxic metals from residential properties near Metro East Superfund site

A map that indicates the location of the Old American Zinc Plant Superfund site in Fairmont City, Ill.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

The Environmental Protection Agency plans this month to start removing toxic waste from 50 residential yards near a Metro East Superfund site.

The Old American Zinc Plant, which discontinued operations in 1967, contaminated hundreds of properties with high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc and other heavy metals that are known to cause cancer and a variety of diseases. The site is located in Fairmont City, next to Cahokia Mounds.

The federal agency will also sample numerous properties this summer that may also contain excessive levels of heavy metals.

The remediation this summer is a continuation of efforts to clean up areas near the Superfund site, which began in 2002. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency began investigating the site in 1994 after residents complained about dust they thought was coming from the site.

The EPA is negotiating cleanup costs with Blue Tee Corporation and other companies responsible for the site. Blue Tee Corp. handled remediation work until 2016 when its “economic situation” prompted the EPA to take over. The site became added to the National Priorities List in the same year.

The federal agency expects that remediation could continue for three to five years.

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