|A major milestone was marked at
Waukegan's Old North Harbor on Feb. 20, 1997, with the
removal of signs warning anglers not to eat fish caught
in the harbor because of possible contamination from
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Removal of the signs
marked the end of nearly two decades of restrictions
imposed after contamination of the harbor was identified
Fish in the harbor are now in the same
consumption categories applied to all Lake Michigan fish.
Officials from Waukegan, the Lake County Health
Department, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), and members of the Citizens' Advisory Group (CAG)
for the harbor took part in ceremonies celebrating the
Illinois EPA Director Mary A. Gade hailed the cleanup
progress signified by removal of the signs, saying
"Several years ago we celebrated the removal of more
than one million pounds of PCBs in harbor sediments.
Today, we mark another milestone with the removal of the
fish consumption warning signs. Our fish sampling program
since the sediment cleanup has shown that the harbor is
no longer a significant source of PCBs in Lake Michigan
"The Illinois EPA remains committed to working
with the local community to restore full beneficial uses
of the harbor and the lakefront," she said.
Jim Park, chief of the
Illinois EPA's Bureau of Water, left, and Chuck Isely,
chairman of the Waukegan Harbor Citizens' Advisory Group,
show their pleasure in removing a sign that warned
anglers against eating fish caught in the North Harbor
because of contamination.
Action coincides with new more
precise fish consumption guidelines.
Rescinding restrictions on Waukegan Harbor fish
consumption coincides with the adoption of expanded, more
precise guidelines for eating all Lake Michigan fish. New
guidelines add two categories to the existing three
Previous advisories classified fish in one of three
categories: unlimited consumption (no restriction),
do-not-eat, or eat no more than once-a-week. Newly added
classifications recommend one meal a month or one meal
every two months for certain kinds and sizes of Lake
Removal of the warning signs follows removal of
approximately one million pounds of PCB-contaminated soil
from the harbor in 1992.
Subsequent monitoring of fish from both the harbor and
Lake Michigan has shown no appreciable difference in PCB
concentrations in fish from the harbor and those from the
Waukegan North Harbor has been designated an Area of
Concern (AOC) by the International Joint Commission on
the Great Lakes, U.S. EPA and the Illinois EPA, under a
U.S.-Canadian agreement that requires this designation
when conditions exist on the Great Lakes that have caused
or are likely to cause impairment of beneficial uses.
Work is now underway identifying other needed cleanups
in the vinicity of the harbor and the near-shore area.
Efforts in Waukegan illustrate one of the first AOCs to
actually demonstrate environmental benefits resulting
from a cleanup.