Chicago Officials Act to Remove Mercury-Contaminated Soil from Future Base Camp Site

Chicago Officials Act to Remove Mercury-Contaminated Soil from Future Base Camp SiteSource: Google Street View
Damon R. Sheffield
Published on December 05, 2023

Officials in Chicago moved swiftly to address environmental concerns at a future base camp location, revealing the results of a recent soil investigation. The City of Chicago’s Department of Assets, Information, and Services hired Terracon Consultants, Inc. to thoroughly examine the site at 3710 South California Avenue. According to a city report, mercury was detected in the soil at a single location. Swift action was taken to remove the contaminated soil and safely dispose of it at an offsite landfill.

The city maintains that with limited soil removal and by putting a barrier in place, the site is now safe for temporary residential use. The investigation compared the soil sample results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for residential areas. The city's efforts appear to closely follow these provisions, but residents have yet to see the full outcome of these initial measures. In a statement provided by the City of Chicago, "soil with mercury levels was identified at one location and was removed and properly disposed offsite at a landfill."

Additional work at the 9.5-acre location is anticipated as part of the construction and remediation process. An extra 1 ft. x 1 ft. x 1 ft. area of soil will be remediated following a timeline established by the State of Illinois. Currently, there is no construction or further remediation scheduled. The city plans to release more information about subsequent remediation as it becomes available.

The city’s full Environmental and Investigation and Correction Action Summary Report is accessible to the public and provides transparent insight into the remediation process. For those seeking more information on the environmental efforts and the forthcoming base camp, details can be found in the city's new arrival mission FAQ. According to the published report by the City of Chicago, "the site is safe for temporary residential use," providing some sense of assurance to potentially concerned community members.