Weather Updates

NSSD alters toxic cleanup priorities at Zion plant

Updated: December 11, 2012 2:02AM

GURNEE — North Shore Sanitary District officials have decided to rethink plans for cleaning up a toxic contamination problem at their Zion Sludge Recycling Plant.

Officials recently decided that a specialized environmental control company, rather than a sanitary engineering company, is probably best qualified to eliminate a lingering mercury and arsenic dust problem at its $50 million plant.

The contamination problem, caused by past malfunctions of sludge melter equipment in Area D of the Zion plant, was first reported by The News-Sun in June. The melter is no longer in use.

Officials say the seriousness of the contamination is still unknown, but the area has been sealed off from staff contact.

“The melter area was placed off limits to all employees and workers as soon as the district first became aware of the potential contamination issue, and the area has not been disturbed,” General Manager Brian Dorn said.

He said developing this cleanup project has taken longer than first anticipated due to the complex nature of the project. However, he assures the public that no health hazards exist beyond the plant’s restricted area.

Dorn said original plans were to seek cleanup bid estimates from Donohue & Associates, NSSD’s primary engineering consultant, and secondarily from Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises, a specialized toxic cleanup company.

However, over the summer NSSD officials decided to reverse primary responsibilities by naming Oneida as the primary project consultant since it has more experience in working with toxic materials.

Oneida is currently in the process of developing a revised cleanup bid.

This will be reviewed by NSSD legal counsel and then presented to the board of trustees soon for approval, Dorn said. Donohue & Associates will submit a supporting secondary bid.

In other action at Wednesday’s board session, trustees approved a $33,750 downstream bank renovation project at its Des Plaines River outfall near the Gurnee Sanitary Treatment Plant at Washington Street and O’Plaine Road. The three-phase design and engineering project, to be carried out by the engineering firm of Baxter & Woodman Inc., will provide alternate erosion measures to stabilize the crumbling river bank.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.