West Chicago needs $millions to carry out radioactive thorium cleanup

Lawmakers press for more thorium cleanup money Daily Herald, Robert Sanchez 21 Oct 14 With money running out to pay for removal of radioactive thorium waste at a former factory site in West Chicago, local officials are appealing to the federal government for help….So far, their request for as much as $40 million in federal funding for the cleanup hasn’t been granted……..

n July, the U.S. House approved legislation that provides $20 million to reimburse work at cleanup projects nationwide. Nearly $6 million of that money could be used in West Chicago.

But the Senate hasn’t approved the measure. It’s proposing legislation that would cut the funding amount to $10 million……

While the roughly 60-acre property is vacant, it used to house a factory that produced radioactive rare earth elements such as thorium for federal atomic energy and defense programs, dating to World War II.

The process created a sandlike material that the factory made available to residents for landscaping and building projects. In addition, a storm sewer from the factory site carried thorium to nearby Kress Creek and the West Branch of the DuPage River.

Then it was determined that thorium causes an increase in cancer.

Kerr-McGee, which bought the factory in 1967, started a massive cleanup to remove thorium from the waterways, hundreds of individual residential properties, Reed-Keppler Park and a wastewater treatment plant.

But after officials spent decades and roughly $1.2 billion cleaning area sites polluted with radioactive thorium waste, the environmental response trust overseeing the work doesn’t have enough money to finish the cleanup of the factory property. Two areas within the fenced site remain contaminated.,…….http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20141021/news/141029730/

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