The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the completion of all cleanup work required to remove Waukegan Harbor from the binational list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman was joined for the announcement at Waukegan Harbor by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, U.S. Representative Brad Schneider and Mayor Wayne Motley.
Waukegan Harbor was one of 43 contaminated sites on the Great Lakes designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern by the United States and Canada under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Since the early 1990s, EPA, the State of Illinois, and parties responsible for contaminating the Area of Concern have spent approximately $150 million to remove or cap PCB-contaminated sediment, to clean up the Outboard Marine Superfund Site and to restore habitat in the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern.
Funding for this work was provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the EPA Superfund program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The city of Waukegan also worked with federal and state agencies to eliminate combined sewer overflows, to improve beaches and to create valuable dune and swale habitat.
“Illinois families, wildlife and businesses benefit when Waukegan Harbor is safe and open for business,” Gov. Quinn said. “Working tirelessly with federal and local partners, we have been able to turn a once heavily contaminated site into a safer destination for humans and wildlife alike. Cleaning up PCB waste and protecting the Great Lakes is the right thing to do for Illinois and our nation.”
“For the first time in several decades, the Harbor is no longer a toxic hazard or one of the most polluted areas on the Great Lakes,” Sen. Durbin said. “It’s an asset to the community, one that could contribute to economic development sorely needed in the area. The primarily federally-funded cleanup of PCB contamination has made Waukegan Harbor safer for community members and wildlife. This would not have been possible without the longstanding partnerships between federal, state and local governments and the dedication of the community members who have worked for nearly 30 years to get the Harbor a clean bill of health. Lake Michigan is a treasured resource and we need to continue to work hard to restore and preserve it so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Press Release, August 6, 2014