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Waukegan Harbor PCB Cleanup
- Subject: Waukegan Harbor PCB Cleanup
- From: Celeste Whiting <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 10:50:47 -0800
- Organization: Great Lakes Commission
The following message was circulated as an attachment via glin-announce this morning. To further facilitate
information sharing, it is being reposted as a text message.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 19, 1997
Contact: Joan Muraro
SIGN REMOVAL MARKS MILESTONE
IN WAUKEGAN HARBOR PCB CLEANUP
SPRINGFIELD, ILL.---Signs warning anglers not to eat fish caught in Waukegan North
Harbor will be removed Feb. 20, 1997, putting fish taken from the harbor in the same
consumption categories applied to all Lake Michigan fish. Removal of the signs will mark the
end of nearly two decades of restrictions imposed after polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
contamination of the harbor was identified in 1981.
Officials from Waukegan, the Lake County Health Department, the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and members of the Citizens' Advisory Group (CAG)
for the harbor will take part in ceremonies celebrating removal of the warning signs. The event is
scheduled for 3 p.m.
Illinois EPA Director Mary A. Gade hailed removal of the signs, saying "Several years
ago we celebrated the removal of more than one million pounds of PCBs in harbor sediments.
Today, we mark another milestone with the removal of the fish consumption warning signs. Our
fish sampling program since the sediment cleanup has shown that the harbor is no longer a
significant source of PCBs in Lake Michigan fish.
"The Illinois EPA remains committed to working with the local community to restore full
beneficial uses of the harbor and the lakefront," she said.
Rescinding restrictions on Waukegan Harbor fish consumption coincides with the
adoption of expanded, more precise guidelines for eating all Lake Michigan fish. The new
guidelines will add two categories to the existing three advisory levels, providing more specific
health-based information for eating Lake Michigan fish species.
Previous advisories classified fish in one of three categories: unlimited consumption (no
restriction), do-not-eat, or eat no more than once-a-week. Newly added classifications
recommend one meal a month or one meal every two months for certain kinds and sizes of Lake
The decision to remove the warning signs and withdraw warnings targetted specifically at
fish taken from Waukegan North Harbor reflects continuing improvements in the harbor
following removal of approximately one million pounds of PCB-contaminated soil from the
harbor in 1992.
Subsequent monitoring of fish from both the harbor and Lake Michigan have shown no
appreciable difference in PCB concentrations in fish from the harbor and those from the open
Waukegan North Harbor has been designated an Area of Concern (AOC) by the
International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes, U.S. EPA and the Illinois EPA, under a
U.S.-Canadian agreement that requires this designation when conditions exist on the Great Lakes
that have caused or are likely to cause impairment of beneficial uses.
In response, the advisory group was formed, and a plan developed that included removal
of the PCB contaminated soil as well as other needed corrective actions at sites within the area.
Work is now underway identifying other needed cleanups in the vinicity of the harbor and the
near-shore area. Efforts in Waukegan illustrate one of the first AOCs to actually demonstrate
environmental benefits resulting from a cleanup.