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Kaney Transportation, Inc. (KTI) is a 5.4 acre site in a small industrial and residential area about1.5 miles west of Rockford, Illinois. KTI operations consist of the transportation of petroleumand resinous substances, truck maintenance, and storage of some products at the site. Pastoperations have contaminated the soil and groundwater in the area. KTI may not be the onlysource of groundwater contamination in the area, as other petroleum facilities near KTI may havealso contributed to the problem.

KTI currently poses no apparent public health hazard. Former sources of contamination havebeen removed and nearby residences have been demolished. In the future, activities at KTI andnearby petroleum facilities could lead to further soil and groundwater contamination. Consideringthere is a continuous, non-confined aquifer in the area, there is the danger of further surficial anddeep groundwater contamination, the source of private and public wells in the area.


The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requested that the Illinois Department ofPublic Health (IDPH) review the historical and environmental data available to determine if apublic health threat exists at the KTI facility. KTI operations consist of the transportation ofpetroleum and resinous substances, truck maintenance, and storage of some products at the site.


The site was placed on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and LiabilityInformation System (CERCLIS) on September 26, 1990, because of IEPA's concern about thepotential contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water [1]. The facility received itsinitial Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)evaluation in March 1991 when a Preliminary Assessment report was done. IEPA collected soil,sediment, and groundwater samples in November 1991 and later completed a CERCLA ScreenSite Inspection (SSI) report. On August 30, 1994, IEPA decided that no enforcement action wasnecessary "at the present time" and closed the KTI compliance file [2].

KTI is a 5.4 acre site in a small industrial and residential area about 1.5 miles west of the citylimits of Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois (Attachment 1). Its main office is on MeridianRoad and the shop, which is the object of this report, is on Cunningham Road. The site isbordered by Marathon Petroleum Company to the west; Cunningham Road, Torch Oil, andBadger Pipeline Company to the north; a residential area to the east; and Illinois Central GulfRailroad line to the south (Attachment 2). Vacant land lies beyond the railroad tracks. Anunderground petroleum and propane pipeline runs north and south on the west side of the KTI property [3].

Before 1958, the property was used for agricultural purposes. Operations at KTI began between1970 and 1971. From about January 1974 to March 1979, KTI specialized in the transportationof a variety of liquids and gases, including gasoline, fuel oil, propane, resins, asphalt, varnishes,latexes and paints. During that time, both the interior and exterior of the trailer tanks werewashed on the site. The waste water flowed from the floor drains through a pipe into a holdingpond south of where the trucks were washed. According to the IEPA Division of Water PollutionControl files, KTI released about 300 gallons of waste water into the lagoon per week. Thelagoon measured approximately 100 x 100 x 8 feet. When full, the waste was pumped into atank truck and hauled to the Rockford Sanitary District (RSD) for proper disposal. In 1977,heavy metals and cyanide of an unknown source were detected in the effluent, and RSDprohibited KTI from disposing of effluent discharge from the on-site lagoon.

Heavy snow in the winters of 1976-1977 and 1978-1979 made access to the lagoon difficult. Occasionally the waste in the lagoon was observed overflowing into an adjacent corn field and toa stream about 150 feet east of the lagoon. The stream flowed several hundred feet where itreached a residential property and discharged into a private pond about 1,200 feet downstream. The liquid waste was reportedly oily with reddish, rusty coloring and giving off "unpleasant,sickening odors." A resident recounted oil scum on ducks and swans swimming in the pond. Thepond was considered contaminated due to the odd tasting fish, several dead fish, and discolorationoriginating from the unnamed creek. Before the contamination, the pond had been used forfishing and boating.

In March 1979, KTI ceased the internal washing of its trailers as part of a settlement with IEPA. The conditions of the settlement included:

  • the removal and proper disposal of all contaminated materials associated with the lagoon(solid wastes, liquid wastes, and sludge);
  • the installation of a clay base of no less than 1 foot deep for the lagoon floor; and
  • an impermeable industrial liner covering the clay base.

The waste was never to overflow the lagoon, but was to be properly disposed. In November1981 two stainless steel holding tanks were placed in the lagoon area and used for the storage ofexternal wash water. The lagoon was brought to grade by 1993.

In May 1985, a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) inspection revealed KTI wasgenerating hazardous waste consisting of xylene used to clean their tank trailers. KTI's presidentagreed to ship the hazardous waste material to Acme Solvents. By June 1985, KTI had shipped500 gallons of used xylene and claimed no longer to use xylene for cleaning.

In June 1989, KIT reported a solvent release on their property. During the investigation, about40 whole drums, 30 drum fragments, and ten 5-gallon buckets containing solvents, resins, andcaustic materials were discovered buried on the site. KTI believed that this material was buried12 to 15 years ago. IEPA analysis of the drum contents and the contaminated soil showed thepresence of several halogenated organic compounds. At IEPA's request, KTI expanded theirinvestigation into both on-site soil and groundwater. The drums and the contaminated soil wereremoved to a depth of 14 feet below the grade as a voluntary cleanup under IEPA supervision.

In July 1989, three underground storage tanks (UST) were removed from the KTI property. These consisted of two 275-gallon tanks used for the storage of solvents on the east side of thedispatch building, and one 550-gallon tank used to store waste oil on the building's west side. The 2 solvent tanks were installed sometime in 1970 or 1971 and used until the mid to late 1970sin the process of washing road tar from the trailers. During the removal, they discovered that thetwo 275-gallon tanks were leaking solvent. Chlorinated solvents were detected in soil samplestaken from the east and west excavations where the USTs had been. The tanks were transportedto a facility for proper disposal, and visqueen was placed over both excavation holes. KTIbrought the holes to grade using clean backfill in the east solvent contaminated area and using soilcontaminated with waste oil in the west excavation area.

The history of the KTI site is intertwined with that of the nearby residences and other petroleumindustries. Residents living near the site complained repeatedly about the pollution of their privatewells. In 1981, IEPA received a complaint about a private well contamination from a residentliving near the intersection of the Meridian and Cunningham Roads. Subsequent groundwatersamples collected by the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) detected purgeableorganic carbon and purgeable organic halides in the well water. In January 1986, IDPH andWCHD conducted additional sampling of the homes and industries in the area. Because of thissampling, WCHD advised residents of 4 homes to use alternative drinking water (Attachment 3). In February and March 1986, several meetings were conducted with IEPA, IDPH, WCHD, andthe petroleum handling facilities near Cunningham and Meridian Roads to discuss thegroundwater contamination. Several facilities (KTI, Torch, Clark, Badger, and Marathon) agreedto band together to supply the residents with bottled water.

In October 1989, a family wrote a letter to then President Bush complaining that KTI had notremediated the groundwater contamination. Subsequently, the Executive Office referred thematter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). USEPA formed a TechnicalAssistance Team that initiated an investigation in the area near the Cunningham and MeridianRoads. The contamination affected 6 residences and 8 commercial facilities, mainly petroleumfacilities. This investigation, dubbed the "Falconer Well Study," began in February 1990 whenwater samples were collected directly from the well taps [4]. The study concluded that an actualor potential human exposure to hazardous contaminants in drinking water existed. Based uponthe results, IEPA requested that KTI provide whole-house filtration systems to the homesreceiving bottled water. KTI committed to the installation of either whole-house filtration or deepwells for the houses with contaminated wells.

In the spring of 1990, at the request of KTI, Mittelhauser Corporation conducted a study to findthe extent of contamination for the KTI property [5]. The investigation included the sampling ofsoil and shallow groundwater monitoring wells. Mittelhauser also sampled the water well at thehouse east of the facility.

In October 1991 a potentially responsible party (PRP) group, which included KTI, began theinstallation of new private wells into St. Peter Sandstone in an attempt to provide safe drinkingwater to the residents with contaminated wells. However, after successfully installing one well,the subsequent attempts failed. Sampling results showed much higher levels of volatile organiccompounds (VOCs) in the new well than in the shallow well at this location. The PRP groupgave up the installation of new residential wells. They decided to buy and demolish the houseswith contaminated wells.

In July 1994, USEPA and IDPH staff conducted an indoor air study in a nearby home to evaluatethe potential exposure to contaminants in their private well [6]. Measurable quantities of severalVOCs had been reported in water samples collected from their private well since 1986. Theresidents had been drinking bottled water, but a possible exposure to water pollutants existed byinhalation and skin contact during showers and other bathroom-related activities, and by long-term inhalation within the home.

By the late summer of 1994, the 3 houses with contaminated private wells were demolished(Attachment 3). In February 1995, IEPA collected water samples from wells about 15 feet deepon 5 private properties in the area [7].

On May 4, 1996, two unrelated gas spills occurred in the area [8]. Approximately 38,000 gallonsof gasoline overflowed out of a large tank at the Clark Oil Refining storage station at Cunningham and Meridian roads, and 12 hours later, and 2 blocks away, 5,000 gallons of gasolinespilled at Badger Pipeline on Cunningham Road. The excess gasoline was contained on theproperty in a clay drainage dike area, and later, a private contractor vacuumed it. Oil spills in thearea were also noted in the past. Before 1971, an employee of "Arco," an oil company at the sitewhere Clark Oil stands today, witnessed many spills from fuel oil and gasoline on the grass. These spills reportedly were in the thousands of gallons, and the spill sank into the ground.

KTI property is approximately 815 feet above sea level. The surficial soils over much of thegrassy areas consists of light brown silty loam. On about of the site, soil had been coveredwith asphalt and aggregate fill. The soils consist of silty clays down to approximately 10 feet. However, not as much clay is found near the southern end of the facility because of erosion. Commonly, a moist sand layer is found next to the surficial soils. Silt is the primary ingredientfrom 10 feet to about 28 feet. For the next 6 feet the loam turns sandy and contains clay, silt,gravel, and cobbles.

There are 3 major aquifers in the area: 1) sand and gravel, 2) a series of dolomites and sandstonesknown as the Cambrian-Ordovician deep sandstone system, and 3) the Elmhurst-Mt. Simonsystem. Groundwater was encountered at approximately 25 to 30 feet below the ground surfacebeneath the facility property. The depth to the water table corresponds closely to the depth of thetop of the sandy till. A saturated or moist upper sand zone is under much, but not all, of the site,and is about 10 feet in depth. Because this aquifer does not have a confining layer, it isconsidered a continuous aquifer. A June 1990 Mittelhauser Report stated that groundwater flowseast-northeast, with a flow velocity of 234 feet per year. Regional well logs document drinkingwater wells using water at depths ranging from 34 to 308 feet.

Winnebago County derives all of its public water from groundwater sources. The nearestmunicipal well lies less than 2 miles away and serves the city of Rockford with a population of140,000. Within a 4-mile radius from the site the distribution of the population is:

Distance in miles0 - 1/41/4 - ½½ - 11 - 22 - 33 - 4
Number of municipal wells




City of Rockford population







Outside city boundaries population





NA=not applicable

Private industries and residents near KTI that are outside the city boundaries use drinking waterfrom private wells. The KTI facility on Cunningham Road uses drinking water from a deep wellinstalled in 1991. The use of drinking water from the original well was discontinued due tocontamination. There are 5 full time, on-site workers and about 6 truck drivers that areoccasionally on the site. The nearest residential well is approximately 50 feet east of KTI.

The facility stands on undulating topography, outside the 500-year flood boundary, according tothe National Flood Insurance Rate Map. The maximum relief, as measured from the uppernorthwest corner to the low-lying southeast corner, is approximately 20 feet. Much of this reliefoccurs near the south border of KTI where a narrow creek flows northeast along the facilityproperty. The creek flows to a recreational pond about 1,200 feet east of the facility and Meridian Road. A small dam at the east end of the pond controls the flow out of the pond in anortheastward direction until it runs into North Fork Kent Creek. This creek flows south forapproximately 260 yards, at which point it turns east and enters Levings Lake. After leavingLevings Lake, this water body feeds into Rock River near a fishery for important game fishspecies. No surface water intakes are within 15 miles downstream.

IDPH completed a site visit on November 19, 1997. A 7-foot high, chain-link fence runs alongthe western and northern perimeters of the facility (Attachment 4). The northern fence is toppedwith barbed wire and has a lockable gate. A wooden fence runs approximately 1/4 of the wayfrom Cunningham Road along the eastern perimeter. It continues with a chain-link fence farthersouth and separates the site from a nearby house and farm facilities. A gully runs along the edgeof trees and bushes for the last 1/4 of the eastern site perimeter. The southern perimeter has nofence. The facility was well kept and clean. The structures on the site consist of a building and 4above-ground storage tanks. The building has offices in the northern portion and the shop area inthe southern part. Storage tanks stand upright in the middle of the property. Sheltered pumps forgas delivery are on the west side of the tanks. An estimated 1/3 of the site is covered with asphaltpavement. Trailer tanks are parked along the edges and the middle of the site. An area of asphaltabout 5 yards by 2 yards in size is in the middle of the southern 1/3 of the site where the lagoonhad been. This asphalt area is surrounded by grass. Nine monitoring wells exist on the site, onein the asphalt area.

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