EPA Completes Cleanup of Chicago Lead Smelter

Site also operated as scrap metal facility in the 1940s.

November 15, 2013
Recycling Today Staff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it has completed the cleanup of Loewenthal Metals’ lead smelter in Chicago. In response to community concerns, the EPA says it removed high concentrations of lead in the soil to ensure that the property is safe for residential use in the future.

Last June, the EPA began the removal of 4,800 tons of contaminated soil and debris from the Loewenthal site. The EPA announced that the contaminated soil has been replaced with clean soil that is seeded to prevent erosion.

“I’m proud of EPA’s work, partnering with city and state officials, to clean up the former Loewenthal Metals site,” says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Cleaning up dangerous levels of lead in Pilsen is just one example of how EPA is making a real difference for families and communities across the country—especially those most vulnerable to environmental hazards.”

According to the EPA, the Loewenthal facility operated as a lead and zinc smelter and as a scrap metal facility during the 1940s. In December 2011, the Illinois EPA referred the site to the national EPA for potential cleanup. After obtaining a warrant to access the site, EPA began sampling soil for lead in November 2012 and started the cleanup last June.