Leaders Detail Ambitious Vision for Tainted Harbor Water Tests to Begin Ahead of Cleanup Project
Grusich, Kate, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kate Grusich Daily Herald Staff Writer
Decades ago, Waukegan's lakefront was an economic engine, with an active port and industry fueling the landscape.
Those days are long gone, as contaminated sites saddled by a polluted harbor have left city officials struggling with ways to revitalize and cleanup the area.
However, a solution may be in the pipeline that involves a unique partnership between federal, state and local agencies and a marriage of sorts between navigational and environmental dredging. That ambitious project was laid out Tuesday by lawmakers, city leaders and environmental experts.
"This particular project is really a model for my district," Lt. Col. Norm Grady of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said of the intergovernmental cooperation.
For the next two weeks, environmental experts will spend frosty mornings aboard testing barges at 15 spots in the harbor, breaking up ice and taking water samples. Those samples will be sent to a laboratory, with results expected in about 90 days.
Once that information is processed, officials will determine the extent of sediment contamination and costs and timelines associated with further cleanup. The entire cleanup project could cost about $15 million, some experts said.
"It really depends on how clean it is," Grady said, adding the test results would have an impact on how dredged material is disposed. "It's all based on what you find during the sampling."
The Army Corps has long planned navigational dredging at the harbor, which involves removing sediment and debris to deepen shipping channels. Now, through the partnership with the EPA and other agencies, it is looking to expand into environmental dredging to remove toxic chemicals from certain areas. …