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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

With Peoples Gas Set To Clean Up Toxic Site In Little Village, Alderman Calls For Soil Sampling Residential Areas

Peoples Gas is set to remediate the toxic parcels of land on its property, but some are calling for the investigation to expand, saying nearby residential may also have contaminated soil.

Peoples Gas will clean up two parcels of land at 4358 W. 35th Place over the next year.
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LITTLE VILLAGE — Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) is calling for officials to investigate if residential properties neighboring toxic parcels of land at the Peoples Gas Crawford Station have been contaminated.

Peoples Gas is set to remediate the toxic parcels of land on its property and is continuing a contamination investigation at the Little Village site. But Rodriguez raised concerns about the investigation, saying it should cover nearby residential lots.

During a virtual meeting Tuesday night, Rodriguez asked federal Environmental Protection Agency officials whether they would expand soil sampling beyond the the Crawford Station, 4358 W. 35th Place, to ensure nearby properties are safe.

“Based on current presented findings, contaminants appear slightly over the company property line,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez cited concerns raised by other elected officials and asked: What would be done if samples determined contamination had reached nearby properties? What resources would be provided, and who would be responsible for that cleanup?

Ald. Michael Rodriguez raises calls for the expansion of the soil samples beyond the site.

EPA official Bill Murray said the remedial investigation had produced significant data but the investigation had not concluded.

“We plan to consult agency experts in the coming weeks and bring on additional resources to work with Peoples Gas to determine the next steps on this part of the site, including sampling in the residential areas,” Murray said.

The official said the site was “complex” and required “a closer look to determine the health risks” posed to neighbors. 

“The EPA is continuing to work on the full characterization with the community’s concerns in mind,” Murray said.

During the meeting, EPA officials outlined plans for the cleanup efforts, which will start next month on two parcels of the former manufactured gas plant. 

Peoples Gas will clean up two parcels known as “G” and “V” over the next year. As part of the process, heavy excavation equipment will be used to remove 4-8 feet of contaminated soil, which will be disposed of off-site. Afterward, it plans to treat 16-21 feet of soil before capping the parcel with gravel.

Work will happen 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and is expected to last a year. The EPA will oversee the cleanup.

Water will be used to prevent dust and other particles from leaving the site, officials said.

If at any time air monitors indicate the level of dust particles exceeds health standards, work will be suspended, officials said. But air monitor data would only be available monthly after its been reviewed and validated, officials said.

The remediation comes more than a year after the botched implosion of the Hilco site, which is across from the Peoples Gas Crawford Station.

During the meeting, Edith Tovar, a member of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, urged officials to make real-time air monitor data available to the community.

Since the site is near Little Village Lawndale High School and homes, the EPA and Peoples Gas should have a 24-hour bilingual hotline in case of an emergency, Tovar said.

In 1921, the Koppers Company of Pittsburgh built the site and manufactured gas that was sold to Peoples Gas. The gas company acquired the facility in 1928.

The manufactured gas was used for heating, lighting and cooking in local homes and businesses, officials said.

While in operation, the site produced gas from coal, oil and other raw material. The byproduct of gas production also resulted in waste, including volatile organic compounds, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and metals.

Production temporarily ceased 1958-1962 and shut down permanently in 1965. Peoples Gas sold upwards of 146 acres of the property to First American Realty company the following year, according to the EPA.

The site is bound by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to the south, the Chicago and Illinois Western Railroad to the north, the Chicago and Western Indiana Belt Line Railroad to the west and Pulaski Road to the east.

Since 2012, Peoples Gas has cleaned up parcels of land at the Crawford Station under the EPA’s supervision.

The property is divided into 28 parcels between 11 owners. The current site is used for logistics and warehouses, officials said.

Peoples Gas will clean up two parcels of land at 4358 W. 35th Place over the next year.

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