Pillsbury Site

Agency Removes Tons of Asbestos from Pillsbury Site

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that they’ve already removed 2,100 tons of toxic asbestos materials from the old Pillsbury site in Springfield, Illinois but, they say, this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as toxins at the long-vacant property are concerned.

Asbestos removal at Pillsbury site“We still have a lot of other contaminants throughout the property. There’s mercury, PCB ballasts, waste oil, there’s sulfuric acid,” said Kevin Turner, site cleanup coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a statement to the State Journal-Register.

The county was trying to sell a dozen parcels on the massive property at a surplus property auction to take place later this week, but officials have pulled them because of the contamination, noted a county official.

When the parcels are eventually sold, proceeds will be used to pay back taxes.

The EPA stepped in when P. Mills LLC failed to comply to court orders that demanded they clean up the site. Instead, contaminants have remained on the site – which shuttered its doors in 2001 – for more than 15 years.

The agency has already spent $1.6 million on clean-up.

“One of the partners, Joseph Chernis IV, is scheduled to be sentenced in October after pleading guilty to federal charges of improper asbestos cleanup and making false statements in a separate state environmental case,” noted the newspaper article.

EPA’s Turner hopes the asbestos clean-up will be completed by the end of September and that the clearing of other toxins from the old Pillsbury site will be done by sometime in October.

These additional toxins include nearly 4,000 mercury-containing lightbulbs, 1,300 PCB ballasts, 700 gallons of waste oil, many drums full of solvent, and more than 100 containers with unknown contents.

Locals are hoping that someday the land can be repurposed and that something viable can take shape at the old Pillsbury site.

No one thinks, however, that it’s going to happen any time soon, given the scope of the contaminants and the wariness of businesses to build at the location.

Pillsbury Mills Neighborhood Association president John Keller says there have been a number of proposals through the years but none panned out, likely because of the cost of cleaning up the location.

But, he agrees, neighbors are happy about the activity taking place there now as the threats associated with asbestos and other toxins will be gone…or at least lessened.

“It’s just nice to get it cleaned up,” he told the newspaper.