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Outboard Marine Corporation

Site Information
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Heriberto León (leon.heriberto@epa.gov)
312-886-6163 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66163

Remedial Project Managers
Timothy Drexler
or 800-621-8431, ext. 34367

David Linnear
or 800-621-8431, ext. 61841

Sheila Sullivan
or 800-621-8431, ext. 65251


(where to view written records)

Waukegan Public Library
128 N. County St.
Waukegan, IL

en español


The Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) Superfund Site is located in the northern section of Waukegan Harbor in Waukegan, Illinois.  The 100-acre site along the shore of Lake Michigan is the former location of a large outboard-boat-motor manufacturing plant and a former railroad tie, coal gasification, and coke plant facility.

OMC declared bankruptcy in December 2000 and abandoned its manufacturing plant in 2002.  The city of Waukegan purchased both the Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plant (WCP) site and the OMC Plant 2 property from the bankruptcy estate as part of its plan to revitalize the city’s lakefront.

Due to its large size, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has divided the site into four cleanup parcels: Waukegan Harbor, the WCP site, the three polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated soil containment cells, and OMC Plant 2.

Contaminants of concern at the OMC site include PCBs, which OMC used in hydraulic fluids at its boat motor manufacturing plant, and trichloroethene (TCE), a chlorinated solvent that OMC used to degrease newly-made parts.  PCBs are found in Waukegan Harbor and on the OMC Plant 2 site.  TCE is found in the groundwater under the OMC Plant 2 site.  The WCP site has a different set of contaminants of concern because OMC did no manufacturing there.  Contaminants identified at the WCP site included tars, creosote, arsenic, ammonia, and phenol found in soil and/or groundwater.

Land use in the immediate area of the OMC site is marine recreational and industrial.  Several large industries in the area use Waukegan Harbor to receive raw materials from cargo ships.  The city of Waukegan has a public beach on Lake Michigan southeast of the WCP site.  Once the WCP and OMC Plant 2 properties are entirely cleaned up, the city plans to use that land to revitalize the lakefront by zoning it for the construction of town homes, condominiums, and shops.

Waukegan Harbor

OMC first cleaned up Waukegan Harbor in 1992 by dredging PCB-contaminated sediment.  However, EPA determined in 2009 that more dredging was needed to remove residual PCB contamination to fully clean the harbor.  EPA plans to hydraulically dredge sediment with residual contamination from the harbor and pump it to the OMC Plant 2 property for storage.

Former Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plant:

Soil cleanup on the WCP site began in November 2004 and was completed in November 2005.  Thousands of tons of contaminated soil were dug up and then trucked off site for disposal in area landfills.  Some of the more tarry material was trucked to Utah and Pennsylvania for disposal in facilities that burned the tarry material to generate electricity.  After all excavations were completed and testing was done to show that cleanup levels had been reached, clean backfill material was brought in and a 6 to 10 inch clean top soil layer was placed over the site.  The city of Waukegan now maintains the property.

The ground-water cleanup at the WCP site consists of two phases, one active and one passive.  In fall 2008, the active phase began with construction of a groundwater treatment plant (in a building on the OMC Plant 2 property) to clean contaminated groundwater pumped from beneath the WCP site.  Treatment occurred in innovative aerobic (oxygen-loving) bacterial reactors in which the organic chemical contaminants served as food for the bacteria.  “Digested” water was then filtered and pumped back into the ground beneath the WCP site.  The active groundwater cleanup was completed in September 2011 and all machinery has since been dismantled.

The passive phase of the ground-water cleanup began in early 2012.  This phase includes monitoring remaining residual groundwater contamination until safe levels are reached.  The WCP site cleanup effort is the only cleanup currently underway at the OMC site that is not funded by U.S. EPA or the state of Illinois.  North Shore Gas Company, General Motors Corporation, and the EJ&E Railway have conducted and/or contributed to the cleanup work being done at the WCP Site.

PCB Containment Cells:

The three PCB containment cells were constructed and filled in 1992.  The City of Waukegan, under U.S. EPA oversight, is in now in charge of their operation and maintenance.  Since 2005, the city has been maintaining the surface covers on the containment cells, conducting routine inspections, and operating the ground-water pumps to remove and then treat water from inside the cells.

OMC Plant 2:

The 1,000,000-square-foot OMC Plant 2 building and surrounding property was abandoned by OMC in 2002.  Immediately afterwards, EPA conducted an evaluation of the contamination both within the buildings and in the surrounding soil and groundwater.  After EPA determined that the eastern 400,000 square foot portion of the building was clean, the city of Waukegan demolished that portion in 2006 and disposed or recycled the resulting debris off site.  The remainder was determined to be contaminated with PCBs as was soil and debris outside the building.  EPA also found that ground water under the Plant 2 site was contaminated with TCE.

EPA received funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in June 2009 to begin cleanup work on the PCB-contaminated Plant 2 building.  Demolition work on the 600,000 square foot building began in January 2010 and was completed in July 2010.  About 5,000 tons of steel were recovered, most of which was recycled locally.  In 2010, EPA also began digging up and removing contaminated soil and sediment for offsite disposal including some sand dune and stream sediment areas.

Site Updates || Technical Documents | News Releases | Fact Sheets || Public Meetings

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Site Updates

March 2013

Waukegan Harbor Sediment Cleanup
The first season of dredging of harbor sediment began on September 26, 2012 and ended November 10, 2012.  A portion of the North Marina in Waukegan Harbor was removed during the summer of 2012 so that contaminated sediment beneath it could be dredged.  Because OMC is out of business, EPA and Illinois EPA are conducting and paying for this second harbor cleanup. A water treatment plant and sediment consolidation facility (CF) were constructed on the OMC Plant 2 property in order to process the contaminated harbor sediment.  The treatment plant processes water that is dredged with the sediment and then returns the cleaned water to the harbor. (See diagrams of the dredging and treatment operations under Technical Documents on this page.) The treated water is sampled to insure that it meets clean water standards before it is returned to the harbor. (See the table of water sampling results under Technical Documents on this page.)  The CF holds the dredged contaminated sediment.  The second season of harbor dredging is planned to begin on April 1, 2013 and conclude in August 2013. A cap will then be placed over areas within the harbor that were too close to the harbor seawall to safely dredge. The water treatment plant is then scheduled to be dismantled and the CF will receive a final cover in 2014.

OMC Soil Cleanup
Most of the contaminated soil and sediment has now been removed; however, areas of contaminated soil remain that either require excavation or will be converted into a containment cell similar to the existing ones created during remedial actions in the early 1990s. Excavation of contaminated soil in the eastern portion of the site is planned to begin in April 2013 and continue until June 2013.  Design of the new containment cell in the western Old Die Cast (ODC) area is also planned for 2013. Construction of the ODC containment cell is planned for early 2014. A protective cover is also planned for areas too close to buried utilities to excavate.

OMC Groundwater Cleanup
In September 2011, EPA installed an underground air-sparge curtain treatment system along the south boundary of the OMC Plant 2 property which uses a line of air bubbles released in the groundwater to remove dissolved solvents from the groundwater before it flows off site towards the harbor.  The air-sparge curtain system will be operated for at least 15 years.  In November 2011, a concentrated pool of TCE nearly 28 feet below ground surface was treated with iron filings that were injected into the TCE mass to destroy the TCE so that it cannot be a continual source of dissolved contamination to the groundwater.  Treatment of dissolved TCE contamination in site groundwater began in May 2012, by injecting sodium permanganate to break down the TCE into non-toxic components.  Groundwater cleanup actions will continue in 2013 with an evaluation of the contaminants in the groundwater followed by additional injections of sodium permanganate.
The former Waukegan Coke Plant portion of the OMC Site is currently under a monitored natural attenuation remedy for residual groundwater contamination left after the significant contamination was removed.

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