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Congressional District # 07


EPA ID# ILD982074783
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The 15-acre Division Street Station former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site ("Division Street site") is located at 1241 West Division Street, Chicago, Illinois.  The site is bounded to the north by West Division Street, to the south by West Cortez Street, to the west by the Union Pacific Railroad, and to the east and northeast by the North Branch of the Chicago River. A portion of the site is east of Elston Avenue (adjacent to the North Branch of the Chicago River) and is now owned by the city of Chicago and a private entity; during MGP operations, this property was used for coal and coke storage.  The portion of the site west of Elston Avenue is currently in use by Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (Peoples Gas) as a Utility Service Center and includes a meter testing and repair shop in the main building, a maintenance building, warehouse and storage buildings, material storage bins, office buildings, one 12,000-gallon gasoline underground storage tank (UST), and one 12,000-gallon diesel fuel UST.  The site and the surrounding area are zoned for commercial and industrial uses, and the properties adjoining the site are used for commercial purposes. The nearest residential properties are one block south of the site.

History and Former Operations

The Division Street Station MGP was constructed in 1883 as a gas production and storage facility. This was the first MGP in Chicago built exclusively for the production of water gas. The facility eventually included four gas holders ranging in size from 500,000 to 10 million cubic feet.  Underground MGP structures included storage tanks, oil tanks, tar tanks, and tar settling tanks.  Above-ground MGP structures included condensers, shaving scrubbers, oil tanks, and light oil washers. Gas production at the plant ended before the aboveground MGP structures were dismantled and removed in 1962.

The Division Street site is being addressed under EPA's Superfund Alternative site program. 

Site Responsibility

The Division Street site is being addressed through potentially responsible party (PRP) actions under federal and state oversight.

Threats and Contaminants

Chemicals detected in groundwater samples collected during investigations at the Division Street site include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), primarily consisting of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX), semi volalile organic compounds (SVOCs), primarily consisting of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals (including arsenic and barium), and cyanide.

Impacted soils were found as early as 1979 when excavation for an addition to the maintenance building led to the discovery of blackish clay soil with an observed inflow of oil into the excavation area.  Later, stained soils with strong odors and heavy oil sheens were observed during site investigations.  Samples collected in March 2002 from soil borings and a test trench showed evidence of free phase coal tar product and oily hydrocarbons.  The contaminants found in soil samples at levels above screening levels during site investigations are primarily PAHs, including benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)fluoranthene, and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene.  Soil samples collected after the recent remediation  exceeded the soil ingestion remediation objectives for PAHs, arsenic, and lead; in addition, the soil inhalation remediation objectives were exceeded for benzene and naphthalene.

Human exposure to contaminated soil or groundwater could cause adverse health effects over the long term.

Sediment samples were collected as part of an EPA study in 2000, from a location in the North Branch of the Chicago River adjacent to the site.  These samples contained high levels of PAHs, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), oil and grease, and metals; the concentrations of these substances generally increased with depth. Many of the reported concentrations of total and individual PAHs, PCBs, and metals are at concentrations that suggest toxicity to organisms that live in the sediment (benthic invertebrates). 

Cleanup Progress

In 2005 EPA was approached by Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPSC) with a request to investigate and clean up seven former MGP sites in Wisconsin under EPA's Superfund Alternative site (SA) program.  (The SA Program addresses potential cleanup sites that might otherwise be eligible for listing on the National Priorities List (NPL), but which will instead be investigated and cleaned up by a cooperative PRP without formally listing the site on the NPL.)  When WPSC merged with Peoples Energy to form Integrys Energy Group in 2007, Integrys approached EPA with a request to address thirteen former MGP sites in Illinois under the SA program.  Two former MGP sites are located in Waukegan and eleven are in Chicago.  The Division Street Station site is one of the thirteen Illinois MGP sites.

In 2007 EPA and Integrys entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the two Waukegan MGP sites and an AOC for Engineering Evaluations and Cost Analyses (EE/CAs) at the eleven Chicago MGP sites. Since all twenty MGP sites have similar conditions and contaminants, and Integrys is the PRP for each, the AOCs allow a streamlined approach to site investigation and remedy development. Some benefits of the agreement include the use of multi-site documents, a mechanism to review the adequacy of past work, and scheduling flexibility to allow progress on the "worst problems first." By the end of 2008, all of the multi-site documents had been approved, and site-specific work began on several of the sites. On October 31, 2008, EPA and Integrys entered into an AOC which converted the EE/CA AOC for the eleven Chicago former MGP sites to an RI/FS AOC.

To more effectively manage all eleven Chicago MGP sites, the RI/FS AOC organized them into four larger sites: the North Shore Avenue Site, the North Branch Site, the South Branch Site, and the Crawford Site. Both the North Branch Site and the South Branch Site have several operable units. The North Branch Site is comprised of the Division Street Station Operable Unit (OU), the North Station OU, and the Willow Street/Hawthorne Avenue Station OU. One site is the the North Shore Avenue Station Site. The South Branch Site is comprised of the 22nd Street Station Upland OU, the Hough Place Station Upland OU, the Pitney Court Station Upland OU, the South Station Upland OU, the Throop Station Upland OU, and the South Branch River OU.

Investigations and Remediation Previously Performed

Remediation activities to address impacted materials were conducted in 2005 under Illinois EPA's Site Remediation Program.  Areas on site were excavated to at least 3 feet below ground surface and backfill materials were brought in to replace the excavated materials.  After backfilling, an engineered barrier was installed to prevent the further spread of contaminants. Approximately 164,000 tons of excavated material and over one million gallons of water associated with the excavation were disposed of as part of the remediation process.  Post-remediation sampling data indicate that elevated levels of certain contaminants still exist on site, although barriers are in place to prevent direct contact exposure.  In addition, impacted material was left in place between the gas holder wall and the railroad tracks where remediation was deemed impractical.

The RI/FS work plan was approved in April 2010, with field work starting in March 2011.  As of March 2015, 8 rounds of quarterly groundwater monitoring, along with Phase 2 of sediment/surface water sampling, have been completed.  A draft RI Data summary report, which is a prelude to submittal of a draft RI report, is currently under review by EPA.   EPA plans to receive a draft RI report from Integrys by December 2015.   


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
Rosauro Del Rosario (delrosario.rosauro@epa.gov)
(312) 886-6195



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