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Cleanup of NSSD’s Zion sludge plant set

North Shore Sanitary District's ZiSludge Recycling Facility Green Bay Road 9th Street. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

North Shore Sanitary District's Zion Sludge Recycling Facility at Green Bay Road and 9th Street. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 17, 2013 2:38AM

GURNEE — Trustees of the North Shore Sanitary District have approved a site access and indemnification agreement that permits an environmental decontamination service to access and clean up a hazardous mercury and arsenic condition at the district’s Zion sludge recycling plant.

Area D of the $50 million plant off Green Bay Road experienced both mercury and arsenic contamination from a malfunctioning sludge melter back in 2009. Since then, the area has been sealed off and the plant’s production progress put on hold.

The district had hopes of eliminating its landfills in favor of collecting the waste sludge from its three sanitary treatment plants, then heating and drying it into a glassy aggregate that would be sold commercially and used in road construction.

However, the process proved unsuccessful and the district now plans to scrap the contaminated melter. Sludge is being disposed of in a Wisconsin landfill.

Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises, LLC, a Milwaukee environmental consultant, will do a preliminary assessment of Area D to determine its degree of toxicity since levels are still not known in the secured zone.

Staff estimates that it may cost the district about $1 million to have specialized environmental contractors clean up the contaminated fly ash and equipment located in the hazardous area to make it serviceable again. However, these costs could vary depending upon the degree of contamination discovered, they indicated.

Now, after nearly four years, it is expected the hazardous cleanup at the Zion plant will finally get underway.

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