EPA Issues Ultimatum to 20 Companies

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 has given a group of companies, public entities and individuals 60 days to provide a good faith offer to address ground water contamination in an unincorporated area near the Ellsworth Industrial Park sit

EPA sent a letter on Oct. 15 requesting that the group conduct or finance an environmental site investigation and feasibility study, and perform interim steps that provide safe drinking water for residents affected by contamination.

Notification to potentially responsible parties is a required procedure under the federal Superfund law. In early August, 15 businesses and public entities in Downers Grove were notified of their status as potentially responsible parties. Most of the companies sent representatives to a meeting Aug. 20 with EPA and its partner agencies, Illinois EPA and the Illinois Attorney General's office.

Since July 2001, Illinois EPA has tested over 500 private wells in unincorporated Downers Grove for the presence of the trichloroethylene and tetrachlorethylene, industrial degreasing solvents commonly known as TCE and PCE. Of the wells tested, more than 200 were above the safe drinking water standard for one or both of the chemicals. The solvents were also detected in another 200 wells, but at levels considered to be safe.

EPA and Illinois EPA have also installed more than 40 monitoring wells in the area, collected ground water samples at 50 locations and taken soil borings at 90 locations. As a result of this investigation, the agencies have concluded that Ellsworth Industrial Park is the source of the ground water contamination.

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