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Serious environmental and ecological damage at the former Indian Refinery in Lawrence County will be repaired thanks to a unique public/private partnership.
As Natural Resource Trustees, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signed an agreement with former owner, Chevron Texaco, committing to an extensive restoration project at Indian Refinery Superfund site located on 990 acres along the Embarras River.
The agreement, known as a Natural Resources Damages Assessment Funding and Participation Agreement (FPA), provides a funding mechanism to evaluate the damage caused by contamination and restore natural resources in Southern Illinois.
"This agreement puts in place a funding mechanism that will result in the first formal Natural Resources Damages Assessment work performed in conjunction with a site investigation and cleanup in Illinois," said IEPA Director Renee Cipriano. "We believe the agreement and spirit of cooperation it represents will be a model for similar work at other sites."
"This marks a critical step in restoring nearly 1,000 acres to natural habitat," said Joel Brunsvold, IDNR director. "There is no doubt this site has been the location of great environmental pollution for decades. From trees dying to deer disappearing in quicksand-like pools of waste, we have seen evidence of destruction at this location. Now, that damage can be reversed."
"The cooperative spirit that brought us together to forge this agreement can continue to be the driving force in our efforts to restore a piece of the natural legacy of Southern Illinois," said Robyn Thorson, Regional Director of USFWS.
The next step will be to develop an assessment plan that outlines a number of alternatives to adequately address the resource damages, including realistic restoration options to make the public whole. This evaluation will be a cooperative effort between the Natural Resources Trustees and Chevron Texaco.
The Indian Refinery operated from the early 1900s until the mid 1990s. Contamination from the petroleum refining processes has been identified across the entire property.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.