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EPA Accelerates Cleanup at DePue Superfund Site in Illinois; Updates Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-031

EPA Accelerates Cleanup at DePue Superfund Site in Illinois; Updates Administrator’s Superfund Emphasis List

DePUE, Ill. – (April 16, 2020) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler has announced the eighth update to the Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action, establishing new milestones to accelerate cleanup at the DePue (New Jersey Zinc) site in DePue, Illinois. These milestones include completing consent decree negotiations to clean up residential yards in Operable Unit 4 and finishing the remedial investigation/feasibility study for the remainder of the site.

“With support from the State of Illinois and the Village of DePue, EPA is delivering on its promise to accelerate the cleanup at the DePue site,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “In January, we issued a unilateral administrative order and we expect to see the responsible party start cleaning up residential yards this year.”

Since the creation of the Administrator’s Emphasis List in 2017, 19 sites have been removed from the list after achieving critical milestones that furthered site cleanup or solved issues slowing the pace of cleanups. With this update, there are a total of 15 Superfund sites on the Administrator’s Emphasis List.

EPA has chosen to retain the DePue site on the Administrator’s Emphasis List because EPA is establishing additional milestones that are critical to moving the cleanup forward. These milestones include completing negotiations for the Operable Unit 4 residential yard cleanup work and remaining remedial investigation/feasibility study work at other site areas.

The DePue site is a 950-acre area that at one time contained a zinc smelter and a phosphate fertilizer plant. The site is contaminated with elevated levels of metals, including zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper and manganese.

EPA initially added the DePue site to the Administrator’s Emphasis List to focus attention on reaching agreement with the responsible party to implement the remedy for the off-site residential soils. Through the unilateral administrative order executed on Jan. 23, 2020, implementation of the cleanup work is expected to begin this year.

This Administrator’s Emphasis List update continues to demonstrate EPA’s commitment to the American people to facilitate progress at Superfund sites by resolving long-standing issues at cleanup projects across the country. EPA monitors sites removed from the list to ensure that significant progress continues, and cleanups move towards completion.


EPA established the Administrator’s Emphasis List in December 2017 in response to recommendations from EPA’s Superfund Task Force. The list is comprised of sites identified by Administrator Wheeler and EPA regional offices that will benefit from the Administrator’s immediate attention or action to move site cleanups forward.

The list serves as a mechanism to address site-specific issues that may cause delays in a site’s cleanup progress. EPA considers removing a site from the list once the milestone is achieved and the cleanup activities are back on track. Sites move on and off the list as needed, and removal from the Administrator’s Emphasis List does not change the site’s status on the National Priorities List. 

The updated Administrator’s Emphasis List is available on the agency’s website at

For more information on the DePue site: