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Cleanups Under State Response Action Program

Paxton Landfill, Cook County, Chicago

LPC # 0316000033

Project Manager : Stan Komperda 

Governor Ryan and Illinois lawmakers specifically earmarked landfill cleanup money in the Illinois FIRST program and the state’s general revenue fund to correct problems at the abandoned 47.5-acre Paxton I and 58-acre Paxton II landfills located in southeast Chicago. Due to the threats of collapse of Paxton II Landfill, which towers 170 feet high, emergency work began in March 1999. Paxton’s most serious problem was steep, eroded and unstable slopes that progressively become weaker due to continued erosion and the buildup of landfill leachate (rain water and melted snow that has percolated through the wastes). The state’s successful stabilization efforts at Paxton II Landfill reduced the threat of a catastrophic slope failure. 

During December 1999, the state finished capping the most critical 19 acres and has pumped out more than 2.5 million gallons of contaminated liquids from within the landfill. During 2000, the Illinois EPA improved the side slopes and planted a vegetative cover, consisting of prairie grasses. Summer of 2001, Illinois EPA installed a permanent leachate collection system and a gas system. Leachate removal will continue for several years. Leachate is being treated so that it is environmentally safe. The state spent $6 million during 1999 at Paxton II and plans to spend a total of $15 million.

The Illinois EPA coordinated with the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment and Fire Department, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and neighboring facilities.

The state’s cleanup efforts have the strong support of local community groups, the City of Chicago and the U.S. EPA. In fact, the state efforts at Paxton II have provided impetus for open space restoration and wetland development in lands located adjacent to Paxton.

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