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The Jennison-Wright Corporation (J-W) is a National Priorities List (NPL) site in Madison County, Illinois, in the northern section of Granite City. The J-W facility engaged in wood treatment of railroad ties and wood blocks using creosote, pentachlorophenol, and zinc naphthanate. They also manufactured "Jennite," an asphalt sealant, on the site. The facility stopped operations in June 1990, and site access was restricted in November 1990; thus, exposures to the facility's workers have been eliminated. However, exposure to on-site contaminants continues to occur due to surface contamination of soil. Soil contamination also exists off the site from runoff, disposal, and air deposition. Residences are within 50 feet of the site boundaries. Citizens have expressed concern over exposure to site contaminants, especially dioxins.

Based on available information, the J-W site is considered a public health hazard because of the risk to human health resulting from past, present, and future exposure to soil contaminants. The reason for this conclusion is exposure to soil contaminants originating from on- and off-site areas, including dermal exposure in heavily contaminated unfenced off-site areas and the increase in cancer risk from exposure to these soil contaminants. Future concerns include contaminated groundwater migration and subsequent exposure through ingestion and inhalation of contaminants from the site. Substances of concern include creosote and coal tar and their associated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pentachlorophenol, dioxins, and furans.

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommend that air monitoring be conducted to determine if residents are exposed to site contaminants in air. Groundwater contamination should be monitored to prevent possible future exposures. The site should be further remediated to prevent exposure from airborne contaminants and direct contact with heavily contaminated on-site and off-site areas. Groundwater should also be remediated or its migration off the site prevented to eliminate the possibility of future exposures.


A. Site Description and History

The Jennison-Wright Corporation (J-W) site occupies 16 acres on 22nd Street, Granite City, in Madison County (SE 1/4, Section 13, T.3N R.10W), Illinois. Figure 1 shows the location of the J-W site within Granite City. This site was a wood treatment facility from approximately 1915 to the end of May 1990. Wood treating compounds used on the site included creosote, zinc naphthanate, and pentachlorophenol (PCP). Jennite, a coal tar-based asphalt sealer was also produced on the site (1).

The facility began operating around 1915 as Midland Creosote. In 1940, Midland Creosote sold the facility to Jennison-Wright, also known as Jennison-Wright Liquidating Trust. In 1981, Jennison-Wright Liquidating Trust sold the site to the Jennison-Wright Corporation, which continued operations until the end of May 1990. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) restricted site access on November 19, 1990. In the period between the site closing and site access restriction, on-site materials including treated wood products, treatment cylinders, and building materials were auctioned and removed from the site. Many on-site buildings were also razed during this period. Insulation and pipe wrap that contained asbestos remained on the ground surface until the spring of 1992. The site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in June 1996.

The primary products treated at the facility were wood blocks and railroad ties. The creosote operation began around 1915 and remained essentially unchanged until it was modernized in 1987. Before 1987, the creosote process included three, 6-foot diameter, treating cylinders, three 28,000-gallon storage tanks, steam pumps, a vacuum pump, a compressor, and miscellaneous storage tanks. The cylinders were in unlined 3-foot deep depressions that were 150 feet long and 45 feet wide. They were in a building until it burned in 1975. In the treatment process, heated creosote (200 degrees Fahrenheit) was pumped into cylinders filled with either wood blocks or ties. Pressure was also used to treat railroad ties. The excess creosote was pumped back into the storage tanks. A small amount of creosote spilled onto the ground when the doors were opened to remove the treated wood. Two in-ground tanks behind the cylinders collected creosote and runoff water. The creosote was recovered in in-ground and above-ground oil/water separators. The creosote was returned to the process, and the water was sent to the municipal waste water treatment plant. Treated wood was transported to an area north of the creosote operation. The surface soil underneath the storage area and rail tracks became contaminated with creosote.

Past practices involved dumping waste material from the creosote process into surface impoundments. Three areas have been identified where creosote-contaminated waste materials were dumped (Figure 2). These three areas are an on-site disposal pit, an off-site waste disposal pit, and an off-site surface waste disposal area.

A pentachlorophenol (PCP) treatment process was used from the early 1970s until 1984. The PCP process was used on wood blocks used for decorative flooring. Process equipment included treatment cylinders, storage tanks, a compressor, and a vacuum pump. Approximately 15,000 gallons of PCP were used per year, although this quantity varied. In 1984, the PCP process was replaced with the zinc naphthanate process. The zinc naphthanate process continued until May 1990.

Jennite is made from coal tar pitch, clay, and a latex/rubber compound. Production of Jennite began in the early 1960s. Waste material from this process was dumped into the adjacent on-site disposal area (Figure 2).

The J-W site is in the American Bottoms, a flood plain of the Mississippi River. A series of levees has protected the plain from flooding, even during the record flood of 1993. The site is nearly flat, with the difference in elevations over the entire site no more than 2 to 3 feet. Surface drainage in areas north of 22nd Street is mostly toward the northeast corner of the site. The surface runoff water runs northward along the railroad tracks but is not connected to any known surface water source. Most of the storm water sewers in Granite City drain into the water treatment plant before entering the Mississippi River. Drainage from the site south of 22nd Street appears to be away from the site at the perimeter and toward depressions at the center of the site, such as the creosote and zinc naphthanate areas.

The American Bottoms soils consist of silt, clay, and valley fill. Valley fill is composed of sand and gravel deposited over time by the Mississippi River. Particle size of the valley fill increases with depth. Limestone bedrock lies below the valley fill at an average depth of 115 feet in the Granite City area (14).

Boring logs from the site follow the hydrogeology of the region, with the finest sand grains at the shallowest points and increasing grain size with increasing depth. Silt was present on the surface of some samples and was also interspersed in the sand layers. The large particle size of the valley fill creates wide interstitial spaces that hold enormous quantities of water. This interstitial space allows groundwater to move rapidly. The hydraulic conductivity measured on the site in the shallow wells varied from 90 to 150 gallons per day per square foot. Deeper wells would be expected to have higher hydraulic conductivity rates. The groundwater flow direction underneath the site is southwest. The aquifer in the Mississippi Bottoms is unconfined (14).

The Jennison-Wright Corporation and the State of Illinois signed a judicial consent decree for environmental assessment and remediation on January 15, 1986 (16). The site is currently listed on the National Priorities List (NPL).

The J-W site was a Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Model (SACM) site before it was listed on the NPL. As part of this process, emergency cleanup funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) were used to eliminate the greatest exposure sources. USEPA funded the SACM project, with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) conducting the technical work, community relations, and enforcement action. The cleanup at the site included the following:

* cleanup, removal, and transportation to an off-site metal recycling facility of two above-ground storage tanks, a buried railroad tank car, and an above-ground railroad tank car;

* characterization and removal to an off-site incinerator of the material within the 174 drums inside the transite building;

* off-site landfilling of 15 drums of asbestos-containing material contaminated with creosote;

* removal and off-site incineration of creosote waste materials and contaminated soil in and surrounding a buried railroad tank car, above-ground railroad car, and two above-ground storage tanks;

* installation of a chain link fence around the Jennite pit and construction of a clay cover over the pit to reduce rainwater seepage and to limit direct exposure to contaminants;

* construction of an 8-foot high chain link fence topped with three strands of barbed wire around the off-site property area at the northeast corner of the site (Area H).

B. Site Visit

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) staff have made several site visits since 1988. The most recent site visit was on September 27, 1996. IDPH confirmed that conditions at the site have not changed since that 1996 site visit. Most of the buildings were razed and tanks were removed during the 1994 removal action. The site is covered with sparse vegetation and some small trees. Many areas would not support plant life.

No buildings remain in Area A, which is north of 22nd Street. A 12,000-gallon above-ground rail car has also been removed from the northern portion of the site. A pile of debris remains in the southeast portion of Area A. The debris includes old treated railroad ties.

The southern portion of the site (south of 22nd Street) has a few buildings remaining. These include the office, a building directly south of the office, two buildings next to the creosote treatment cylinders, the transite building, and the silos that are south of the Jennite building. The remaining tanks and buildings have been removed. Trespassers can easily reach all the buildings remaining, except the office. A chain-link fence topped with 3 strands of barbed wire surrounded the site. However, several sections of the fence do not have the strands of barbed wire and may be easily climbed by trespassers.

On June 3, 1993, IDPH and IEPA staff visited the site and met with the mayor of Granite City to give information concerning the site status and soil samples recently taken from the yards of 10 nearby residents. They then visited with those residents whose yards had been sampled to discuss the test results. The most notable on-site contamination is the creosote lying atop the soil in and around the creosote area and train tracks leading to the treated tie storage area. The zinc naphthanate areas have gravel spread around them so that surface contamination was not visible. A chain-link fence surrounds the entire site. Creosote odors were noticed both on and off the site. Off-site odors were noticeable for several blocks downwind and were stronger on warm days. The northern and western perimeters of the site are residential areas. Railroad tracks and an industrial area border the eastern side. A drinking water settling basin, owned by Illinois American Water Company, is along the northern boundary of the property.

In May 1994, IEPA held a public hearing to discuss the SACM removal action planned for the site. A news release, fact sheet, and public notice were prepared and distributed at the public meeting. IEPA held an "open house" and site tour in November 1994 to discuss the implementation of cleanup activities with local officials, media personnel, and the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The J-W site is in Granite City; however, the cities of Madison and Venice are within 3 miles of the site. Figure 3 gives the population density, age distribution, and summary statistics within a 1-mile radius of the site. The population within 1 mile of the site is 11,500. The population estimates within the 2-mile and 3-mile radii are 31,280 and 43,265, respectively.

The primary land use within a 1-mile radius of the site is residential and industrial. The NL Industries/Taracorp site, an old secondary smelter and an NPL site, is within 1 mile of the J-W facility. Agricultural areas are approximately 1 mile from the site. Several schools, playgrounds, and city parks are within 3 miles of the site.

The site may affect two surface water bodies, the Chain of Rocks Canal and Mississippi River. Storm water from the site that enters the storm water sewers eventually goes to the Granite City wastewater treatment plant. After treatment, the water is pumped into the Chain of Rocks, a canal that joins the Mississippi River.

Approximately 62 groundwater wells are within 1 mile of the site. Groundwater use in the Granite City area is primarily industrial, and a few homes have drinking water wells. Only two shallow residential wells were identified within a 2-block area next to the site boundaries. These wells were used primarily for lawn and garden watering. The nearest industrial wells are just southeast of the site and are owned by the Nestle Company. These production wells were used for non-food purposes and are no longer in use.

D. Health Outcome Data

By using state health databases, IDPH can sometimes determine whether certain health effects are higher than expected in a particular area, such as an exposed population near a hazardous waste site. This section includes a list of available, relevant databases; their evaluation occurs in the Public Health Implication section.

The Illinois Health and Hazardous Substances Registry Act was signed into law in 1984. Because of the Act, the Illinois Health and Hazardous Substances Registry (IHHSR) was created. The major purpose of the IHHSR is to monitor health effects among the citizens of Illinois related to exposures to hazardous substances in the workplace and in the environment. Specifically, the IHHSR is a unified statewide project to collect, compile, and correlate information on public health and hazardous substances. The registry consists of the following categories:

  1. Cancer incidence.
  2. Adverse pregnancy outcomes.
  3. Occupational diseases.
  4. Hazardous nuclear materials.
  5. Hazardous substances incidents.

The Illinois State Cancer Registry (ISCR) is a registry developed because of this Act. As of January 1, 1985, mandated reports of all cancer patients newly diagnosed in nonfederal Illinois hospitals are reported to ISCR. In addition, some federal hospitals in Illinois report cases voluntarily. Some bordering states also exchange cancer data with Illinois (28). The ISCR is the prime source for information on cancer incidence within the state. This assessment includes cancer incidence data for the years 1985-1994.


A public availability session was held at the Second Baptist Church on August 31, 1989. IDPH and IEPA staff attended the availability sessions to answer questions regarding exposure and health effects from site-related compounds. Most persons were concerned about the long-term health effects that may be related to on- and off-site contamination. The primary chemicals of public concern were polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxins. Many residents had questions regarding exposure to dioxins and their associated health effects.

A summary of the community health concerns is as follows:

  1. How can the contaminants at the site affect my childrens' health?
  2. I played in areas that were visibly contaminated and had direct contact with these substances; am I going to get cancer?
  3. Are there any long-term health effects associated with site-related contaminants?
  4. Will exposures to these compounds cause cancer?
  5. How will dioxin (specifically 2,3,7,8-TCDD) affect my health and the health of my children?

Some of these concerns have been repeated since the 1989 availability session, but no new community health concerns have been expressed since that time. This document was made available for public comment. IDPH did not receive any comments on the information contained in this document.

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