Wednesday, Dec. 22


State and federal agencies to work with ChevronTexaco to restore land     Send a link to a friend

Agreement provides funding mechanism for innovative approach at
Indian Refinery Superfund site

[DEC. 22, 2004]  CHICAGO -- Serious environmental and ecological damage at the former Indian Refinery in Lawrence County will be repaired, thanks to a unique public-private partnership announced Tuesday.

As natural resource trustees, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed an agreement Tuesday with former owner, ChevronTexaco, committing to an extensive restoration project at Indian Refinery Superfund site, located on 990 acres along the Embarras River.

The agreement, formally known as a Natural Resources Damages Assessment Funding and Participation Agreement, provides a funding mechanism to evaluate the damage caused by contamination and restore natural resources in southern Illinois.

"This agreement puts in place a funding mechanism that will result in the first formal natural resources damages assessment work performed in conjunction with a site investigation and cleanup in Illinois," said Illinois EPA Director Renee Cipriano. "We believe the agreement and spirit of cooperation it represents will be a model for similar work at other sites."

"This agreement marks a critical step in restoring nearly 1,000 acres to natural habitat," said Joel Brunsvold, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "There is no doubt this site has been the location of great environmental pollution for decades. From trees dying to deer disappearing in quicksandlike pools of waste, we have seen evidence of destruction at this location. Now, that damage can be reversed."

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"The cooperative spirit that brought us together to forge this agreement can continue to be the driving force in our efforts to restore a piece of the natural legacy of southern Illinois," said Robyn Thorson, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The next step will be to develop an assessment plan that outlines a number of alternatives to adequately address the resource damages, including realistic restoration options to make the public whole. This evaluation will be a cooperative effort between the natural resources trustees and ChevronTexaco.

The Indian Refinery operated from the early 1900s until the mid-1990s. Contamination from the petroleum refining processes has been identified across the entire property.

[News release]

[Timeline below]


Early 1900s

Refinery established.


Lubricating oil process generates sulfuric acid as byproduct.


Texaco leaves site.


Illinois Environmental Protection Agency investigates uncontrolled blowing asbestos at the refinery. Asbestos had been used to wrap piping throughout the facility. After Texaco left, maintenance of wrapping ended, and the wrapping deteriorated.


Asbestos removal conducted.


The Illinois EPA enters into consent order requiring environmental assessment of the facility, including the wastewater treatment pond, tar pits and the 26-acre disposal area, known as Indian Acres.

1996, October

The Illinois EPA and U.S. EPA initiate third immediate removal action in a residential area near Indian Acres; tarlike waste excavated from properties on Fourth and Hickory streets; some residential properties purchased and access restricted.

1997, June

Hydrocarbon material floating on the groundwater discovered entering wetland. Assessment reveals surface hydrocarbon product floating on groundwater discharge at several points into wetlands, affecting Embarras and Wabash rivers; vegetation in wetlands found dead or damaged. Environmental sampling finds benzene, toluene, zylene, methylnaphthalene, naphthalene, trimethylbenzene and total petroleum hydrocarbons. As a result, vegetation in wetlands areas affected by release was dead or damaged. In response, the U.S. EPA began emergency stabilization efforts.


Demolition of main refinery units began.


The Illinois EPA and the Illinois attorney general filed an action against ChevronTexaco Corporation in federal court. The court ordered testing at the site, where samples showed a release of oil or hazardous substances might have injured natural resources the soil surface. The site has been placed on the National Priorities List of Superfund hazardous waste sites. NPL sites are eligible for long-term cleanup under the Superfund program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


The Illinois EPA and the Illinois attorney general filed action against ChevronTexaco Corporation in federal court, leading to a consent decree: ChevronTexaco was ordered to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study.


Pre-assessment screening completed. Data to be used to determine extent of natural resource injuries to wildlife habitats, including wetlands.


Natural resource trustees will host a public availability session, answer questions about natural resource damage assessment and respond to questions about site work.

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