Waukegan Harbor AOC Clean Up Cruise
On July 7, the Waukegan Harbor Citizens Advisory Group hosted the Lake Michigan League of Women Voters for an informative and interesting lunch at the Waukegan Yacht Club followed by a cruise in the harbor aboard the educational research vessel, W.G. Jackson. USEPA Superfund Project Manager Ted Drexler addressed our group over lunch, and Waukegan Harbor Citizen Action Group President Susie Schreiber assisted the boat crew in identifying important aspects of the cruise.
We were eager to see the results of millions of dollars of spending in public money to clean up industrial waste, and also to enjoy the beautiful but windy day on the lake. In this we were not disappointed as about 35 attendees from Winthrop Harbor to Evanston asked questions and made investigations with the help of the crew. We had three elected officials in our midst, as well as some students.
In 1981, prompted by the discovery of high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in harbor sediments, Waukegan Harbor was named as one of 43 Areas of Concern (AOC) on the Great Lakes by the International Joint Commission, U.S. EPA and IllinoisEPA. The harbor was identified as an AOC using protocols developed by the United States and Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987.
The Waukegan Harbor Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) was formed by the Illinois EPA in 1990 to assume a leadership role in developing a remedial action plan (RAP) for the Waukegan Harbor AOC. The harbor at one time had the largest known concentrations of PCBs and PCB-contaminated sediments, left from previous industrial uses of the site, including the Outboard Marine Corporation.
In addition to lessening contamination in the harbor, the CAG also worked with state and local government officials to deal with the open dumping of litter, garbage and tires, and has worked to identify older commercial properties that are candidates for redevelopment. The CAG has received a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Grant to restore portions of the Glen Flora Ravine and the coastal habitat located south of Illinois Beach State Park to the City of Waukegan public beach.
The League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region has lobbied hard for the continued funding of the GLRI since it was first introduced in 2010. We believe that investment in the Great Lakes should be a national priority, as they hold 84% of America’s surface fresh water, with only 1% being “new” water each year as what we have is left from the Glaciers passage 10,000-14,000 years ago.
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