EPA Announces Cleanup Plan for Illinois Pillsbury Mill

Posted on January 24, 2017

Residents in Springfield, Ill. will have an opportunity to attend a briefing on the asbestos cleanup that will be conducted at the former Pillsbury Mill site in the city. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a public informational meeting to be held Jan. 24 to address their efforts to remove asbestos-contaminated materials and other hazardous waste from the site.

According to the EPA, the Pillsbury Mill, which has been vacant since 2006, was home to a food processing plant on an 18-acre campus with 26 buildings including warehouses, office buildings, grain-mixing buildings, and grain storage silos. Last year, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint against the owner and others for asbestos-related violations. At that time the owner was required to secure the site and hire an asbestos professional to design a cleanup plan. Although small amounts of asbestos were removed a plan was never submitted to the EPA or AG’s office and no cleanup project was initiated.

In a December announcement, the EPA said of the project:

“Beginning in January 2017, U.S. EPA plans to remove and properly dispose of asbestos-containing waste and hazardous substances. This will stop the ongoing release of asbestos into the environment and protect the health of local residents. U.S. EPA will also take measures to keep any asbestos-contaminated dust from blowing off-site. The air will be monitored to ensure the asbestos is under control. Security will also be provided around the clock to prevent trespassing.  The cleanup is scheduled to be completed in about five months.”

The Clean Air Act was established in 1970 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect people with an “adequate margin of safety.” Guidelines for keeping the public and workers safe from asbestos and other environmental hazards are strict, and punishment for violation of these laws is just as strict. Under federal law, the EPA can clean up abandoned, contaminated sites and compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanups, according to the EPA.

The EPA has declared that asbestos is a carcinogen and reports that there is no safe level of exposure. Inhalation of asbestos fibers has been shown to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other serious respiratory diseases. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with the incurable cancer mesothelioma.

For more information about the Pillsbury Mill see the EPA’s fact sheet on the site.

Photo Credit: U.S. EPA