Will County CED targets clean up of contaminated sites along Des Plaines River

CED has $400,000 EPA grant to identify sites for cleanup

The Will County Center for Economic Development is seeking public input as it launches a study into local brownfield sites that can be targeted for cleanup.

Two community meetings will be held Nov. 14 – one at 9 a.m. at Lockport City Hall and one at 4 p.m. at the Joliet Public Library Ottawa Street Branch – to collect public comments.

The CED has a $400,000 federal grant to identify brownfield sites contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants. The grant also provides funding for planning site cleanup.

“We’re trying to find eligible sites at this point,” CED President and CEO Doug Pryor said Friday. “The truth is we don’t know what requires cleanup and what doesn’t before it can be put back into use.”

Pryor said there is no document now that provides a list of brownfield sites in the county that could be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup.

Doug Pryor, President and CEO for the Will County Center of Economic Development, speaks to a reporter during a press conference and interactive tour of the Lion Electric vehicle manufacturing facility. Monday, Mar. 21, 2022, in Joliet.

The CED will focus on sites along the Des Plaines River corridor.

“We focused on that map location because it’s a heavy industrial area and adjacent to population centers,” Pryor said.

Other areas of Will County, however, also could be considered, he said.

The EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant will fund planning for cleanup, including Phase I and Phase II environmental engineering. The grant potentially could clean up plans for 15 sites, Pryor said.

The CED worked with the communities of Joliet, Lockport and Rockdale in applying for the grant, according to a news release on the project.

Properties identified during the Nov. 14 community meetings will be studied to determine their eligibility as brownfields.

“Community engagement is crucial to the success of this assessment grant,” according to the release. “Therefore, community meetings are being planned to keep the public informed on project plans and provide project updates. Interested property owners and residents can receive more information, suggest potential sites and ask questions.”

Registration for the meetings is requested but not required.

More information about the meetings and grant can be found on the CED website, willcountyced.com.