The time-critical removal response actions will be conducted by the bankruptcy Trustee and Paradigm Minerals, in accordance with Section 104(a)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9604(a)(1) and Section 300.415 of the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP, 40CFR 300.415), to abate or eliminate the immediate threat posed to public health and/or the environment by the presence of the hazardous substances on the Site. The uncontrolled conditions of the hazardous substances present at the Site require that this action be classified as a time-critical removal action. This action of preventing storm water migration from the Site will be implemented so long as metal bearing materials or processing of slag take place on the Site. Throughout the Removal Action, Region 5 anticipates that potentially responsible parties will conduct investigations and/or other remedial actions required by EPA.
The Chemetco facility is located south of Hartford, Illinois, in Madison County within an agricultural area with a few residents nearby. Chemetco smelting and recycling operations were conducted on a 41-acre parcel of land surrounded by a chain link fence, which restricts access to the property. Chemetco owns an additional 230 acres of land surrounding the facility. The Chemetco facility is located in the former floodplain of the Mississippi River in an area referred to as the American Bottoms.
The Chemetco plant was an interim status Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facility, containing several RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Units, including a 900,000 ton slag pile and a 35,000 ton scrubber sludge bunker containing Zinc Oxide, both of which test hazardous for lead and cadmium. Four other Hazardous Waste Management Units are known to still exist at the Site, the zinc oxide (dirt) pits, the acid pits, the cooling canals, and the north and east perimeter canals. During its operation, Chemetco had a long history of criminal and civil environmental noncompliance at its facility, and lengthy dealings with both the State and federal environmental agencies. In 1999, the United States obtained criminal convictions of Chemetco and six of its managers for charges related to causing the unpermitted discharge of untreated zinc oxide slurry waste ("zinc oxide release") from its facility into adjacent Long Lake.