Pat Quinn, Governor
Investigation at Markham Illegal Dumping Site
Fact Sheet #1
|What chemical contaminants were found at the dump site?||
Analytical results from limited surface sampling at the site reveal the presence of some heavy metals – such as lead and cobalt – at levels greater than background, which could potentially contaminate groundwater. Additionally, one of four samples revealed elevated levels of cancer-causing man-made chemicals from the family of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are commonly found in products made from fossil fuels, such as coal-tar pitch and asphalt, and can be release into the air during incomplete burning of fossil fuels and garbage. Site trespassers may be exposed to these chemicals by inhaling airborne dusts or otherwise contacting contamination at the site.
U.S. EPA assisted in sampling for contaminants present at the site by collecting samples of unknown solids, liquids and soil on May 10th. Once analyses of those tests are available, in approximately three weeks, Illinois EPA and U.S. EPA will be in a better position to assess potential threats posed by the site. It is possible that further testing of site soils or waste materials will be necessary to characterize site hazards.
|What was found in the recent groundwater samples from private wells?||
Laboratory results from the private well tests revealed groundwater contamination from naturally-occurring metals and minerals, which do not appear to be site-related. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reviewed the findings and issued letters to the three well owners. Only sodium levels were present at levels that would be considered a potential hazard to the health of persons with high blood pressure or on a sodium-restricted diet.
The wells tested are not in the direction of groundwater flow from the site, which is to the south. Mainly industrial businesses are located in this direction, and they are served by a community water supply.
Illinois EPA is interested in sampling a few more private wells close to the site. If you have a well within a few blocks of the site, please contact Charlene Thigpen at (847) 294-4122.
|How will residents be informed about site activities and potential hazards at the site?||Illinois EPA has developed a mailing list of residents nearest the site, with the help of the Village of Markham, to whom we will send this fact sheet and other updates. Contact Carol Fuller (information below) if you or someone you know wants to be added to the mailing list for the site.|
|What are the next steps to make the site safer?||
Illinois EPA requested assistance from the IOAG, who negotiated an agreement with the City of Markham to provide 24-hour police surveillance of the site so that no more waste will be deposited there. The City will maintain barriers to restrict access and has provided signs at locations around the perimeter of the site to deter individuals from entering the site and potentially being exposed to hazards.
Tests of mosquito larvae found in standing water at the site revealed the subspecies of mosquito that carries a type of encephalitis which affects mainly children. There were also mosquito species that carry the West Nile Virus. Illinois EPA purchased a mosquito treatment and arranged for the South Cook County Mosquito Abatement District to apply it to reduce the number of mosquito larvae. The treatment, which was conducted on May 18, 2010, will be effective for three to four months. Illinois Department of Conservation police are attempting to find responsible parties for approximately 43 abandoned boat hulls that are also a source of stagnate water.
Additionally, Illinois EPA will conduct a removal of between 10,000 and 15,000 waste tires at the site and properly dispose of them. The work should be complete by the week of May 23, 2010.
|Who owns the site?||It is reported that the City of Markham purchased liens against a number of parcels within the six-block “site” in a transaction related to unpaid real estate taxes. It is not clear, however, that any titles have been transferred. It is also reported that annexation of the properties may be a subject of dispute between the cities of Markham and Harvey.|
|My family uses a private well, but we have never had it tested. Does Illinois EPA recommend testing it?||
Illinois EPA and IDPH recommend that anyone who lives in an area with current or former commercial or industrial facilities, and uses a well for their source of drinking water, have their well tested for possible chemical contamination.
When you receive the results of your water tests, you may ask a toxicologist with IDPH to review these results with you for possible health implications. You may also talk with them about the types of chemicals to test for. The phone number for the IDPH West Chicago Regional Office is 630/293-6800.
|Who do I talk to about testing my well?||Commercial labs that are certified to analyze samples for organic chemicals and inorganic metals can be found on the List of Accredited Labs page. Discuss the cost of testing with the laboratory. Other information about private well safety is available in the Safe Water Well Initiative 2009 fact sheet.|
|Will the contamination be cleaned up?||
Illinois EPA intends to pursue legal action through referral to the IOAG against any viable party involved in this matter. If any citizen has information about who is responsible for illegal dumping activities at this site, please contact Charlene Thigpen (see below).
Illinois EPA has discussed with U.S. EPA the possibility that they might conduct a removal of the most toxic substances at the surface (drums, totes, other containers of chemicals or wastes), depending on the outcome of sampling results.
|Carol L. Fuller
Community Relations Coord.
Office of Community Relations
DesPlaines Regional Office
| Joe O’Connor
IDPH W. Chicago Regional
245 W. Roosevelt Rd., Bldg. 5
Chicago, Illinois 60185
|About Community Relations|
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