Data Watch: Illinois’ top priorities

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A sign at the Ionia City Landfill, one of the National Priority List sites in Ionia, Michigan. The landfill has been on the list since 1983 and was the site of a waste explosion in the mid-60s, which killed a waste hauler. The site was also used as a baseball facility in the 80s until exposed drums of chemicals were noticed and the field was torn down. Photo: Becky McKendry.

A sign at the Ionia City Landfill, one of the National Priority List sites in Ionia, Michigan. The landfill has been on the list since 1983 and was the site of a waste explosion in the mid-60s, which killed a waste hauler. The site was also used as a baseball facility in the 80s until exposed drums of chemicals were noticed and the field was torn down. Photo: Becky McKendry.

Nationwide, there are 1,320 final sites on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priority List of waste sites that have released or can release hazardous contaminants.

They are either awaiting or currently undergoing cleanup. Sites can be deleted from the list when “no further response is required to protect human health or the environment,” according to the EPA.

Each site is scored through the Hazard Ranking System on a scale from 0-100. The higher the score, the greater threat they represent. Scores are based on the likelihood of the site releasing dangerous substances, the amount and toxicity of pollutants and what the environment is like (such as how many people could be affected by the site).

However, scores do not wholly reflect the severity or priority of a site, according to the EPA.

Of these 1,320 national sites, 44 are in Illinois.

  • The average score of a site in Illinois is 41.67.
  • The cities of Belvidere, Waukegan, Rockford and Joliet are all tied for most sites, with three apiece.

The five sites with the highest scores in the Illinois are:

  1. DePue/New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Corp. in DePue (70.71)
  2. Indian Refinery-Texaco in Lawrenceville (56.67)
  3. Parsons Casket Hardware Co. in Belvidere (55.58)
  4. Wauconda Sand & Gravel in Wauconda (53.42)
  5. Beloit Corp. in Rockton (52.08)

*Data was analyzed using information from the last EPA update of May 24, 2013.

 

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