Durbin Announces Millions in Recovery Act Funding for Hazardous Waste Cleanup

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that Illinois will receive $10-25 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for hazardous waste clean-up at the Outboard Marine Corporation site located in the Waukegan Harbor area of the city of Waukegan. The funding, part of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement of $600 million for the cleanup of Superfund sites across the nation, will be used for the demolition of a PCB-contaminated building at the OMC site and to excavate and dispose of PCB-contaminated sediment and soil.


PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been found to cause cancer and lead to other non-carcinogenic effects such as developmental delays, immune deficiencies and thyroid problems.


“I applaud EPA’s continued efforts to clean up the Waukegan Harbor area. Today’s funding helps ensure long-term health and provides the region with economic opportunity,” Durbin said.


The Outboard Marine Corporation site – four clean-up projects bordered by Lake Michigan to the east and Waukegan Harbor to the south – was named a Superfund site in 1983. The facility scheduled for demolition, a now-abandoned 1,060,000 square-foot industrial complex that operated from about 1948 to December 2000, held the PCB-laced hydraulic fluid OMC used for its outboard motor manufacturing.


For more than two decades OMC routinely discharged the PCB-contaminated fluids though floor drains into the property, holding lagoons, ponds, and, via sewer lines, Waukegan Harbor. This led to sediment and soil contamination throughout the OMC site. Prior to 1989, when the EPA first began to clean up the area, an estimated 700,000 pounds of PCBs were present in the soil – another 300,000 pounds of PCBs were present in harbor sediment.


EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said today’s announcement will accelerate the hazardous waste cleanup already underway and jumpstart the local economy by creating jobs in site areas.


“Under the Recovery Act, we’re getting harmful pollutants and dangerous chemicals out of these communities and putting jobs and investment back in,” Jackson said.