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Pilsen Area Soil Site

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  • Chicago, IL (Cook County)

Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Heriberto León (leon.heriberto@epa.gov)
312-886-6163 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66163 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

On-Scene Coordiantor
Ramon Mendoza
312-886-4314 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64314

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EPA has been investigating lead contamination in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood since 2011, when it became involved with a cleanup at the former Loewenthal Smelter. Residents requested additional investigation into potential lead contamination given the area’s long industrial history.

In December 2012, EPA took soil samples from an alley behind the H. Kramer smelting facility. In 2013, EPA collected soil samples along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)-operated railroad spur between 21st Street and Cermak Road, as well as at several residential properties.

Site Updates | | Fact Sheets || Technical Documents | Legal Documents

You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

map of Pilsen boundaries

Map showing Pilsen OU1 soil remediation areas (PDF) (1pp, 165KB)

November 2015 Status Update

Beginning Monday, Nov. 16, EPA will oversee the cleanup of lead-contaminated soil near Benito Juarez Community Academy.  BNSF Railway Co. will start by removing railway tracks and ties along a railway spur between S. Laflin St. and 21st Place and Cermak Road.   EPA is working with the school to ensure student safety and address traffic concerns. This includes requesting that no cars are parked along the driveway that is between the parking lots north and south of Area 2 (see “paved driveway is not included in the OU1 remediation area” on the map) so that contractors can work between Areas 1 and 2 along the railroad spur.

Later this month, contractors for H. Kramer & Co. will excavate and dispose of lead-contaminated soil from the railroad spur and alley behind the foundry at 21st Place.  All areas will be paved over with gravel. The cleanup is expected to take about 4-6 weeks. During the cleanup, soil will be kept wet to control dust and air will be monitored.  In spring 2016, most of the graveled areas will be covered with asphalt. EPA continues to work closely with the City of Chicago and neighborhood organizations to provide information to residents about steps they can take to reduce exposure to lead contamination.

Previous updates

Action Levels and Removal Management Levels

"action levels” are Removal Management Levels.

Removal Management Levels (RMLs) are to support the decision for EPA to undertake a removal action under CERCLA. They are risk-based, although not necessarily protective for long term exposures, concentrations derived from standardized equations combining exposure assumptions with toxicity data.

RMLs help identify areas, contaminants and conditions where a removal action may be appropriate.

Sites where contaminant concentrations fall below RMLs are not necessarily “clean,” and further action or study may be warranted under the Federal Superfund program.

In addition, sites with contaminant concentrations above the RMLs may not necessarily warrant a removal action dependent upon such factors as background concentrations, the use of site-specific exposure scenarios or other program considerations.

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