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Congressional District # 04


EPA ID# ILN000510192
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The Crawford Station former manufactured gas plant (MGP) site is located at 3500 South Pulaski Road in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.  The site is bounded on the south by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, on the north by the Chicago and Illinois Western Railroad, on the west by the Chicago and Western Indiana Belt Line Railroad, and to the east by Pulaski Road (formerly Crawford Avenue).  The Crawford Station site does not include the far northeast corner of this area (approximately 30 acres on the southwest corner of the intersection of Pulaski Road and the Chicago and Illinois Western Railroad) that is occupied by a warehousing and manufacturing facility owned by Lincoln Property Company.  Midwest Generation’s Crawford Power Plant occupies the property east of Pulaski Road.  The properties north of the site (across the railroad tracks) are residential, and the property west of the site is an industrial area containing an Exxon Mobil plant. The site is currently divided into 21 parcels with various owners.

MGPs were industrial facilities that produced gas from coal, oil, and other feedstocks. MGPs started operating in the U.S. in the early 1800s, typically in urban areas where gas was needed for lighting, cooking, and heating. The processes used to produce the gas also produced waste and by-products such as tars, purifier waste, oils, sludges, and acidic waste. Disposal of waste and spills and leaks often resulted in contaminated soil and groundwater.  MGPs were often located near waterbodies and sediment contamination is also common.

In 1921, the Koppers Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Peoples Gas entered into an agreement whereby Koppers built, financed, and operated a by-product coke plant at the Crawford Station site.  Peoples Gas purchased the gas and coke that Koppers manufactured at the plant for distribution to local consumers.  Peoples Gas acquired the facility in 1928.  The Crawford Station site was the largest Peoples Gas MGP facility; it included 105 coke ovens (increased to 151 coke ovens between 1948 and 1950), nine water gas sets, and two 10-million-cubic-feet gas holders.  By the late 1930s, the Crawford Station MGP produced three types of gas: coke oven gas, carbureted water gas, and reformed natural gas.  During the 1930s, several additions and modifications were made to the plant, including construction of a light oil refining plant, addition of liquefied petroleum (LP) gas peak shaving facilities, and conversion of five of the nine water gas sets to produce reformed natural gas and later oil gas.  Two more water gas sets were modified to produce reformed natural gas in 1946.  Forty LP tanks were installed in 1957.

By 1956, the Crawford Station MGP was used only as a peaking unit (supplying gas and coke only when demand was at a peak, usually during the winter months).  Production was halted temporarily between 1958 and 1962 and then permanently after 1963.  The station was retired in 1965.  Dismantling of the station began in 1956, starting with portions of the coke oven plant.  The remainder of the station, including the two 10 million cubic feet gas holders, was dismantled in 1965.  Peoples Gas sold 146 acres of the site property to First American Realty Company in 1966.

The Crawford Station MGP site is not listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) but it is being managed under EPA's Superfund Alternative site program.

Site Responsibility

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

Threats and Contaminants

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, and cyanide were detected in groundwater and soil samples collected in various locations at the Crawford Station site.  Evidence of impacts to soils (described as tar, tar in fractures, tar-coated sand, naphthalene-type odor, and sheen) were observed at depths of up to 26 feet below ground surface (bgs) at various locations at the site.  Sediment samples collected in the Chicago River at locations both upstream and downstream of the site contain high levels of PAHs, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), oil and grease, and metals.  Many of the reported concentrations are at levels which may cause toxicity in organisms that live within the sediment (benthic invertebrates).

Cleanup Progress

Previous Investigations and Cleanup Work

The Crawford Station MGP site is comprised of 21 parcels of property ("Parcel A," "Parcel B," etc.).  Peoples gas conducted site investigations on Parcel O in 2001, on Parcels A and B in 2001 and 2005, on Parcel L in 2002, and on Parcel S in 2007.  Residual tarry material was observed on all of these parcels.  About 45 cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed and disposed of off site in conjunction with gas pipeline improvements that were made on Parcel O; otherwise, no other parcels had been cleaned up before the site was placed into the Superfund Alternative site program.

Superfund Alternative (SA) site program

In 2005, EPA was approached by the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) with a request to investigate and clean up seven former MGP sites in Wisconsin under EPA's SA program. When WPSC merged with Peoples Energy (Peoples Gas) to form Integrys Energy Group in 2007, Integrys approached EPA with the request to address thirteen former MGP sites in Illinois under the same SA program. Two of the former MGP sites are located in Waukegan and eleven are in Chicago. The Crawford Station site is one of the thirteen Illinois former 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 allowed for 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 had begun 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 the eleven Chicago MGP sites, the new RI/FS AOC organized them into four larger sites: the North Shore Avenue Station site, the North Branch site, the South Branch site, and the Crawford Station site.  Both the North Branch site and the South Branch site have several sub-sites or "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. 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. The North Shore Avenue Station and Crawford Station sites do not have separate operable units.

Current status

EPA approved the RI work plan in December 2012 and initial field work was conducted in early 2013.  Due to the size of the site (200-250 acres), the investigation was divided into three phases, with the first phase currently underway.  Each phase will require a separate work plan for EPA review and approval.  Separately, to address immediate health threats posed by the site contaminants, EPA and Integrys entered into an AOC in October 2011 to conduct a time-critical removal action that consists of the excavation of contaminated soils with off-site disposal.  The removal work began in January 2012 and, as of February 2015, approximately 1.2 million tons of contaminated soil have been excavated and hauled off-site for disposal.  The project is expected to be completed in the latter half of 2015.  

Property Reuse

The Crawford Station MGP site is located within the boundaries of an industrial park occupied by various commercial and industrial businesses.  EPA expects that these private businesses will remain on site after all required cleanup actions are completed.


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



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