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Waukegan River Harbor

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Scott Cieniawkski
(cieniawkski.scott@epa.gov)
312-353-9184

Key Documents
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Management actions in the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern are on track to be completed such that the AOC can be delisted in 2014. The Army Corps of Engineers are dredging final portions of the harbor to remove pollutants such as PCBs and arsenic. A cap will be placed over the dredged sediment to contain any remaining contamination.

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Waukegan Harbor AoC Boundary Map

Waukegan River Harbor AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 561K)

Waukegan River shape file (ZIP) (13K)

About Waukegan Harbor

The Waukegan Area of Concern is located in Lake County, Illinois, on the west shore of Lake Michigan. There is also an expanded study area bounded by Dead River on the north; a bluff line which parallels Sheridan Road on the west; the southern boundary of the former U.S. Steel Property on the south; and the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan on the east. The ESA was added to explore additional concerns of the citizens beyond the AOC.

A natural inlet and portions of adjacent wetlands were filled to form the present shape of the harbor. Waukegan Harbor consists of approximately 1.2 square kilometers of industrial, commercial, municipal and open/vacant lands. The watershed of the Waukegan ESA contains the mouth of the Waukegan River, the North Ditch drainage basin and other nearshore areas which drain to Lake Michigan.

In 1975, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were discovered in Waukegan Harbor sediments. Bioaccumulation of PCBs found in the heavily contaminated harbor sediments lead to contamination of fish that resided in Waukegan Harbor.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

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Efforts toward restoration

The first stage of the Waukegan Harbor RAP, detailing the use impairments and a definition of the problems, was completed in 1993, following extensive review and comment by the Citizens Advisory Group and an interagency workgroup. Several successful remedial actions have followed that have great improved habitat and reduced sediment contamination.

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Documents

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Partners

Waukegan Harbor Citizens Advisory Group was organized in 1990 to act as a local advisory group to the IEPA to address environmental concerns in the AOC. The CAG is comprised of members from industry, fishing interests, environmental interests and residents. The Waukegan CAG has been instrumental in obtaining cooperation from local parties involving additional investigations. Groundwater monitoring from local parties is being conducted in an area south of the harbor. The CAG helped obtain access from private businesses and federal grant money to install the monitoring wells.

Public participation and the cooperation of state, federal and local agencies are an integral part of the RAP process. The development of the Waukegan Harbor RAP has been a cooperative effort including input from representatives from business, government, industry, environmental groups, education, recreation and local citizens.

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Photos

The discovery of PCBs in Waukegan Harbor sediments had prevented dredging of the primary navigational channels since 1975. Dredging Waukegan Harbor in 1992 and 1993 removed 1 million pounds of PCBs from the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern. The dredging of approximately 4,000 cubic yards of sediment from Slip 1 in the Fall of 2001 has allowed ships to increase their cargo load from 30% to 70%.

Waukegan Harbor looking northwest

Waukegan Harbor looking northwest

OMC Plant #2 Removal Action - 2003 - Cleaning 2nd and 3rd row machines

OMC Plant #2 Removal Action – 2003 - Cleaning 2nd and 3rd row machines

Outboard Marine Corporation Plant #2 Removal Action - 2003 - Cleaning west catch basin

Outboard Marine Corporation Plant #2 Removal Action – 2003 - Cleaning west catch basin

Installation of sheet piling around the oval lagoon, located on the northern portion of the Outboard Marine Corporation site.

Installation of sheet piling around the oval lagoon, located on the northern portion of the Outboard Marine Corporation site. This installation was done in order to provide support during excavation and construction of one of three confined disposal facilities required to house the 1 million pounds of PCBs that were removed as part of the remediation of Waukegan Harbor and the OMC drainage ditch. September 1991

Waukegan Harbor annual fish sampling is conducted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with fish tissue analysis performed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency laboratory

Waukegan Harbor annual fish sampling is conducted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with fish tissue analysis performed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency laboratory

sampling dredging

Sediment sampling

sampling dredging

Sediment sampling

Difficulties with navigation in Waukegan Harbor are the result of several factors, including water levels in Lake Michigan as well as restrictions on dredging related to the harbor's complicated environmental past

Difficulties with navigation in Waukegan Harbor are the result of several factors, including falling water levels in Lake Michigan as well as restrictions on dredging related to the harbor's complicated environmental past. Dredging of Waukegan Harbor Slip 1 and limited dredging of the entrance channel resulted in immediate improvement to the harbor’s navigability.

dredging the entrance channel

Difficulties with navigation in Waukegan Harbor are the result of several factors, including falling water levels in Lake Michigan as well as restrictions on dredging related to the harbor's complicated environmental past. Dredging of Waukegan Harbor Slip 1 and limited dredging of the entrance channel resulted in immediate improvement to the harbor's navigability.


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