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Congressional District # 09


EPA ID# ILN000510193
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The 10.2-acre North Shore Avenue Station former manufactured gas plant (MGP) site is located in Rogers Park Township in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.  The site occupies three parcels of land (the "Main Parcel," the "East Parcel," and the "Pond Parcel") and is bounded to the north by recently-constructed single family homes, to the west by Kedzie Avenue, to the south by residential properties, and to the east by Whipple Street.  The North Shore Channel (part of the Chicago River system) is approximately 350 feet west of the western property line.  Two of the three parcels are currently owned by the Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (“Peoples Gas”).  The 5.4-acre Main Parcel is currently used as a natural gas regulator station (the “North District Sub-Shop”) and as a vehicle maintenance shop and fueling facility for the north district of Chicago. The 3-acre East Parcel is a vacant lot covered by vegetation and an unused paved entrance to the property. The 1.8-acre Pond Parcel is currently being developed as residential property.

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.

Peoples Gas built the North Shore Avenue Station MGP in 1926 and began operating it as a storage facility for manufactured gas. A 15 million cubic foot tar-sealed gas holder located on the west side of the site was used to store manufactured gas from the time the station began operations. Later, the holder was used to store natural gas and/or a combination of natural and manufactured gas. The gas holder was taken out of service in 1956 for inspection and repairs. The gas holder sealant was changed from tar to oil at this time, and nearly 200,000 gallons of tar were removed from the site. The gas holder and most of the tar tanks associated with it were removed in 1971, but additional underground tar tanks may have been left in place at this time. The main gas storage facility buildings are currently used for the sub-shop operations.

The North Shore Avenue Station MGP site is not listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) but it is being managed under EPA's Superfund Alternative site (SA) program. The SA program addresses potential cleanup sites that might otherwise be eligible for listing on the NPL but instead will be investigated and cleaned up by a cooperative potentially responsible party (PRP) without formally listing the site on the NPL.

Site Responsibility

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

Threats and Contaminants

Soil, groundwater and sediment at former MGP sites are often contaminated with tarry material and heavy metals.  Soil at the North Shore Avenue Station MGP site contains polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and cyanide. Chemicals detected in shallow groundwater samples collected at the site include barium, cyanide, and PAHs (naphthalene and fluorene).  Deeper groundwater conditions at the site have yet to be investigated; however, all parcels are connected to the municipal water service. 

People coming into contact with or ingesting soil or groundwater contaminants at the North Shore Avenue Station MGP site could experience both carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or non-carcinogenic health effects over the long term. 

Sediment samples collected downstream of the site in the Chicago River system contained high levels of PAHs, PCBs, oil and grease, and metals.  These contaminants could be causing toxic effects to benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms in the sediment.

Cleanup Progress

Previous Investigations and Cleanup Work

Peoples Gas conducted soil cleanup work at the North Shore Avenue Station MGP site in 1997 and 2001 under the state's voluntary Site Remediation Program.  In 1997, soil that contained PAHs, VOCs, and cyanide in the northern portion of the site were removed to address chlorinated solvent impacts from releases from an adjoining property.   Some of the solvent-impacted soils left in place had levels of contamination that exceeded Illinois' residential standards, so land use in this portion of the site is currently restricted.  In 2001 and 2002, about  26,000 tons of soils impacted with lead and PAHs were excavated from the site.  However, tar-stained soils that were observed below the groundwater table after soil borings were installed along the western border of the site were not removed during this cleanup effort.

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 to form Integrys Energy Group in 2007, Integrys approached EPA with a request to also address thirteen former MGP sites in Illinois under the SA program.  Two of the former MGP sites are located in Waukegan and eleven are in Chicago. The North Shore Avenue 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

Integrys submitted an RI work plan to EPA for review/approval in October 2014.  EPA is planning that Integrys will begin RI field work at the site in fall 2015.

Success Story

An elementary school and residential homes have been built on parcels that had already been cleaned up to state residential cleanup levels.

Property Reuse

Prior to being included in EPA's SA program in 2007, the state of Illinois had issued a "No Further Remediation"  (NFR) determination for three other parcels at the North Shore Avenue Station MGP site, indicating that these properties had been cleaned up to residential use standards under state regulations after cleanup work was completed in 2002-2005.  A school and homes were subsequently built on the cleaned up properties.


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



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