United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

TRONOX (State of Illinois)

This site description was provided by the cognizant Agreement State, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) makes no claim regarding the validity of the information provided. See our Site Disclaimer for more information.

1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Complex Decommissioning Site
Location: West Chicago, IL
License No.: STA-583
Docket No.:
License Status: Unknown

2.0 Site Status Summary

This site is a 43 acre facility located in West Chicago, IL. It processed rare earths including thorium from 1932 until 1973.

Kerr-McGee sought to decommission the property by stabilizing the waste on site. The plan was ultimately rejected by the NRC and the authority for overseeing the decommissioning was transferred to the Agency in 1991. In 1993, Kerr-McGee submitted an Application for a License Amendment to Decommission the Facility proposing a phased approach. The Agency has been approving the work for each stage. Waste was shipped to Envirocare of Utah (now Energy Solutions). The geology of the site allowed contaminated material to be processed through a physical separation and washing. Clean gravel -type materials were returned as backfill. A water treatment plant was also constructed for groundwater cleanup and processing the contaminated water used in the washing process. The source term has been removed from the factory site to concentration-based standards except around and below the rail car loading facility which remains in operation to transfer off site contaminated materials for shipment for disposal. Currently, the site is being monitored for groundwater contamination and a draft final corrective action plan is being reviewed by the Agency. Ground water remediation could take 25 to 90 years based on attenuation and isolated hot spot pumping proposals.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

The process used by the licensee involved acids and other chemicals that were also disposed on site. These processes resulted in the contamination of twenty constituents above groundwater protection standards. An extensive onsite and offsite groundwater compliance monitoring program is ongoing to determine the effectiveness of the clean-up. Area private wells have been plugged and a local ordinance issued prohibiting new wells from being installed. Many residential areas around West Chicago used tailings from the facility for backfill; in addition, run-off from the site to the creek and a nearby river are being cleaned under the EPA Superfund. This West Chicago decommissioning and remedial actions are the largest privately funded cleanup in the country.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, November 25, 2013