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Lindsay Light Co. Sites

Site Information
  • Chicago, IL (Cook County)
  • There are several Superfund sites associated with Lindsay Light Company

Lindsay Light I

  • 161 E. Grand Ave
    Chicago, IL
  • EPA ID# ILN000509092
  • CERCLIS listing
  • non-NPL

Lindsay Light II

  • 316 E. Illinois St.
    Chicago, IL
  • EPA ID# IL0000002212
  • CERCLIS listing
  • non-NPL

Lindsay Light II site /RV3 North Columbus Drive

  • also known as Grand Pier
  • 200 block of East Illinois Street directly across the street from Lindsay Light II
  • EPA expanded the Lindsay Light II cleanup project to included the North Columbus Drive property
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Susan Pastor (pastor.susan@epa.gov)
312-353-1325 or 800-621-8431, ext. 31325

On-Scene Coordinator
Verneta Simon
312-886-3601 or 800-621-8431, ext. 63601

Senior Health Physicist
Gene Jablonowski (jablonowski.eugene@epa.gov)
312-886-4591 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64591

Office of Regional Counsel

Mary Fulghum (fulghum.mary@epa.gov)
312-886-4683 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64683

Cathleen Martwick (martwick.cathleen@epa.gov)
312-886-7166 or 800-621-8431, ext. 67166


(where to view written records)

Harold Washington Library Center
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL

Charles R. Lindsay Jr. founded the company bearing his name in 1902. Until the mid-1930s, the Lindsay Light Co. manufactured incandescent gaslight mantles at several addresses in Chicago's downtown Streeterville neighborhood. A gaslight mantle is a small fabric bag infused with thorium or other metal nitrate that fits over the gas source. The heat from the gas flame burns off the mantle fabric leaving a fine metal mesh that glows brightly. The Lindsay Light Co. used the radioactive chemical thorium nitrate to manufacture their gaslight mantles. Lindsay obtained thorium containing ore, typically monazite, to refine and extract the thorium. The refining process produced a sand-like waste known as thorium mill tailings, which were used for fill in the low-lying Streeterville area of Chicago and apparently former boat slip areas on the south side of the Chicago River directly south of Streeterville.

Lindsay Light's first location was at 22 W. Hubbard St. The company later expanded its operations to 316 E. Illinois St. and 161 E. Grand Ave. Ore containing radioactive thorium was processed at the Illinois Street site and the mantles were manufactured at the Grand Avenue location. In 1932, the company began moving its operations to West Chicago, Ill. (see Kerr-McGee Superfund site.) The company closed the last of its Chicago facilities in 1936. (read complete background)

Site Updates| Fact Sheets || Technical Documents | Legal Agreements || Radiation Reports

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Site Update

April 2014

Navy Pier Flyover

Construction on this elevated path along the city’s “Lakefront Trail” near Navy Pier will be ongoing through 2018.  The project, which will be done in three phases, will consist of a trail for pedestrians, runners, cyclists, and in-line skaters to relieve bottlenecks. When completed, it will extend from the north end of Jane Addams Park to the south side of the Chicago River.  Links to the city of Chicago are provided below:

Future DuSable Park

The small parcel of land proposed to become DuSable Park is a 3.5-acre peninsula just east of Lake Shore Drive between the Chicago River and the Ogden Slip. The parcel is owned by the Chicago Park District. When it is developed, the park is expected to be dedicated to Chicago's first non-Native-American settler, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable. He was a French and African American entrepreneur from the island of Haiti who lived and operated a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River from 1779 to about 1800.

The Chicago Park District received about $250,000 through an EPA cooperative agreement to clean up contaminated areas on the DuSable Park site. Contractors for the park district, with EPA oversight, excavated, bagged and staged for removal (see photo gallery) more than 115 cubic yards of thorium-contaminated soil.

A small part of the elevated portion of the Navy Pier Flyover will pass over DuSable Park and be supported by several columns that will be placed in the park near Lake Shore Drive. Links to the city of Chicago are provided below:

Project at 455 North Park Drive

Preparation is underway for the construction of a hotel and high-rise residential complex. Prior testing determined that there is thorium-contaminated soil in some subsurface areas of the site. The project’s owner signed a legal agreement with the EPA to find and remove the thorium-contaminated soil. The EPA oversaw the completion of that work last summer.  Contractors used specialized radiation-detecting instruments to scan the soil during excavation. As thorium-contaminated material was discovered, it was immediately secured, covered and packaged for removal to a hazardous waste facility.

Project at 515 N. Peshtigo Court (aka 500 N. Lake Shore Drive)

A 45-floor residential tower is being built here.  Cleanup of more than 160 yards of subsurface thorium-contaminated material was completed in 2013. 

Streeterville Cooperative Agreement

The city of Chicago is cleaning up high levels of thorium contamination in the “Streeterville Thorium Investigation Area” which is bounded on the south by Randolph Street, on the west by Michigan Avenue, on the east by Lake Michigan and on the south by Erie Street. Through a 2012 legal agreement, Cooperative Agreement (PDF) (18pp, 580K). EPA is providing $2.5 million to help fund the cleanup of some city sidewalks, streets, and parkways. The project may last through August 2017.

Fact Sheets

Technical Documents

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Legal Agreements

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Right of Way Thorium Survey Reports

EPA has agreed to host a web-based repository of radiation testing reports and other technical documents for the benefit of those conducting work within the rights-of way. These reports allow private utilities companies and city departments to easily check to see if an area has already been tested and determined to be clear of contamination, or if the area has never been investigated and still needs to be tested.

See this map on a separate page

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