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The Parson's Casket Hardware site is a former manufacturer of casket hardware in Belvidere,Illinois. An electroplating process was used to finish decorative casket hardware from the mid-1920s to 1982. Wastes generated from this process and from spent solvents were disposed on site in an open lagoon, storage tanks, drums, and, possibly, in dry wells next to the building. Thewaste lagoon was partially remediated in 1985 by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency(Illinois EPA) and all of the sludge and some soil were removed and disposed off the site. Somesoil contamination remains in the area of the lagoon and other areas of the site. Contaminantshave percolated through the soil and have entered the aquifer beneath the site. Groundwaterbeneath the site is contaminated with several volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specifically,chlorinated solvents. Two separate plumes have been detected in the area: a plume comprisedmainly of trichloroethene originating in the area of the lagoon, and a plume comprised mainly oftetrachloroethene, the origin of which is presently unknown. The plume has not affected privatewells in the area. The building on the site has been remediated and is now owned and operated byanother company. Filter Systems, Incorporated and DEVECO Corporation currently operatebusinesses in the building.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) believes this site poses no apparent publichealth hazard because little or no exposure has occurred to site-related contaminants. Low-level, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon surface-soil contamination has been characterized; however,likelihood of exposure to contaminated soils is small, and concentrations are below levels ofhealth concern. While deep soil contamination with VOCs may be contributing to areagroundwater contamination, presently no exposure to contaminated deep soils or contaminatedgroundwater is occurring. A potential public health hazard exists because people could usecontaminated groundwater in the future if contamination reaches drinking water supplies.

IDPH recommends that groundwater monitoring continue and that site access remain restricted.The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been conducting groundwater monitoring in theBelvidere area to determine the extent of groundwater contamination, and site-related data shouldbe available in the future. When these, or other data, become available, IDPH will reassess the hazards associated with this site.


In cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the IllinoisDepartment of Public Health (IDPH) evaluates the public health significance of NationalPriorities List (NPL or Superfund) sites in Illinois. Parson's Casket Hardware is an NPL site thatIDPH has evaluated to determine whether adverse human health effects are possible from exposure to site-related contaminants. Recommendations are presented in this document that, ifimplemented, should reduce or prevent future exposure to site-related contaminants.



The Parson's Casket Hardware (Parson's) site is on the northeast edge of Belvidere, BooneCounty, Illinois (Figure 1). Parson's used an electroplating process to make handles, corners,hinges, crucifixes, flowers, "Lord's Supper" hardware, and other decorative items for casketsfrom the mid-1920s to 1982. The wastes generated from this process included electroplatingsludge; cyanide plating solutions; cyanide cleaning solutions; bronze, nickel, and brass sludges;and cleaning solvents. Residential communities border the 2-acre site on the east, and industriesborder the site on the north, west, and south.

Aerial photographs taken from 1937 to 1986 show activities and site features that no longer exist(Figure 2). A lagoon on the western portion of the site received wastes from the west wing of thefacility. Wastes from die casting and from remelting metals were deposited into the lagoonthrough a pipeline extending from the west wing. Overflow from the lagoon was common duringheavy rainfall. A railroad spur, a water tower east of the main building, aboveground storagetanks in the northern portion of the site, a plating tank, and drum storage locations are otherfeatures observed in aerial photographs.

The east wing of the facility was used for finishing operations. Cyanide treatment andelectroplating were conducted on the first floor, while trichloroethene (TCE) treatment andmetals refurbishing were conducted on the second floor. TCE was used to remove tarnish fromthe metals and was stored in buckets during the day. Those buckets were washed daily in thenorth lot of the facility. Cyanide waste sludge was emptied into a drainage trough that drainedinto a sump or "dry well" on the north side of the east wing. Ten dry wells were reportedly nextto the north foundation wall, and five dry wells were along the east wall. These wells wereapproximately 25 feet deep and were brick-lined.

In August 1982, the Illinois Attorney General's Office received an anonymous complaint thatParson's planned to cease operations and abandon hazardous waste at the site. A subsequentIllinois EPA investigation resulted in finding cyanide plating solutions, drums of solvents andplating solutions, four underground storage tanks, stained soils, and an unlined waste lagoon.Illinois EPA required Parson's to repackage leaking drums discovered during the complaintinvestigation and place them inside the building. The company placed the drums inside thebuilding and also removed most of the wastes from the underground storage tanks. A 6-foot-high, chain-link security fence was also placed around the lagoon.

Illinois EPA conducted a partial cleanup of the areas outside the buildings from the fall of 1984through the spring of 1985. Waste materials from outside the buildings were removed from thesite and disposed off the site. Sediments from the waste lagoon were excavated to a depth ofapproximately 25 feet, and three underground storage tanks were removed while the fourth wasleft in place and filled with sand. In February 1986, Illinois EPA inspected the building,following further cleanup, and found that all plating solutions and wastes were safely contained.Filter Systems, Incoporated and another company, DEVECO Corporation, currently operatebusinesses in the building.

In January 1987, the site was proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL or Superfund) andwas placed on the NPL in July 1987. Two separate sampling events were subsequently conductedto characterize contamination at the site. Phase I sampling was conducted May throughSeptember 1989, and Phase II was conducted July through January 1991. Activities in Phase Iincluded soil sampling of 23 bore holes and four monitoring well boreholes, the installation of 13monitoring wells, and two rounds of sampling from the new monitoring wells. Phase II activitiesincluded soil sampling from 11 additional boreholes, a groundwater chasing program designed tofind and characterize the contaminant plume, installation of 16 new monitoring wells, two roundsof sampling from all 29 monitoring wells, installation and sampling of one extraction well tocollect contaminants on the surface of the water table, and sampling from eight private wellswithin a 1.5 mile radius of the site. A Remedial Investigation (RI) was completed for the site in1992 after the completion of Phases I and II. Since 1992, Illinois EPA has divided the site intothree, separate operable units (shallow soils, deep soils, and groundwater) for study andremediation.

A Record of Decision (ROD) that specifies remedial activities has been signed for the deep andshallow soil operable units, but the groundwater operable unit is still being investigated. Primarycomponents of the ROD include:

  • installation of a security fence around the site;
  • deed and zoning restrictions to prohibit groundwater use, limit building construction, andcontrol waste material generated from manipulation of soils at the site;
  • excavation and removal of contaminated soils from the abandoned lagoon area anddetermination of remedial action for the suspected dry wells; and
  • groundwater monitoring.

Groundwater monitoring was again conducted in 1995 to better characterize groundwatercontamination for the Groundwater Operable Unit and to determine remedial alternatives. Sevennew off-site monitoring wells were installed, and all on-site monitoring wells were resampledduring the 1995 investigation. Remedial actions for the groundwater operable unit will be addressed later.

Site Visit

On January 5, 1993, IDPH staff visited the site. The manager of DEVECO Corporation waspresent during the site visit. The DEVECO Corporation currently uses the building on the site tomix and sell chemicals for the plating industry. Filter Systems, Incorporated also operates abusiness in the building selling products for filtering effluents. Filter Systems and DEVECOCorporation employ about 22 people in the building on the site. Chemicals currently used on thesite are safely stored in drums inside the building or in aboveground tanks outside the building.

The area west of the building, which contained the waste storage lagoon, is fenced. A locked gateon the southeast corner of the site restricts access. The chain-link fence is six feet in height. Theclosest home is approximately 200 feet east of the site. Most of the population of Belvidere liveswithin a 2.5-mile radius of the site.

IDPH saw no evidence of trespassing within the fenced area. The area also had a thick growth ofvegetation. During the site visit, IDPH representatives observed evidence of a leaking watermain. An area on the eastern edge of the site was saturated. The manager of DEVECOCorporation said that the water main had been leaking since February 1992. Repair of the mainhad been delayed because of clearances required for the work plan. The leak has subsequently been repaired.

Follow-up site visits were conducted April 2, 1996, and February 4, 1999. No apparent changes were observed during either of those site visits.


Approximately 16,000 people live in the city of Belvidere. The nearest major metropolitan area, Rockford, is 8 miles west of the site. A summary of 1990 census data, by race and age, for Belvidere follows:

White: 14,883
Asian and Pacific Islander: 71
Black: 101
Native American: 25
Hispanic Origin*: 1,644
Other: 878
* Persons of Hispanic origin can be of any race.
<5 yrs - 1,312 45-54 yrs - 1,657
5-14 yrs - 2,345 55-64 yrs - 1,275
15-24 yrs - 2,347 65-74 yrs - 1,155
25-34 yrs - 2,789 75-84 yrs - 752
35-44 yrs - 2,122 >85 - yrs - 204

Figure 3 presents demographic information for persons within a 1-mile radius of the site. That figure also identifies and quantifies sensitive populations around the site.

Land Use

The site is in a predominantly industrialized area of Belvidere. The land south of the site isoccupied by Winkleman-Barr Florist and Greenhouse, R.J. Daniel's Fuel Incorporated, ABCTrucking Company, and private residences. R.J. Daniel's Fuel Incoporated has six aboveground storage tanks that store 90,000 gallons of oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel.

Land west of the site is occupied by:

  • the Taptite Production facility of the Camcar Division of Textron, Incorporated(manufactures fasteners),
  • the Northern Illinois Wilbert Vault Company Incoporated (manufactures cement burialvaults and operates a crematorium),
  • the McKinney Company (cabinet and wood finishing),
  • the Apache Products Company (manufactures polyisocyanurate foam roof insulation),
  • Central Rubber (rubber goods and fiberglass batting), and
  • Chicago and North Western Transportation Company (C&NW), which uses land forrailway transport.

The land to the north is occupied by the Belvidere Construction Company and is primarily usedfor storage of construction materials and equipment. The Belvidere Construction Company has afuel dispenser that uses an underground storage tank.

A rail line owned by C&NW runs through Belvidere approximately ½ mile south of the site. Theline runs from Chicago and has existed since 1852. In 1853, the line from Belvidere to Madison,Wisconsin, was completed. This line runs about 200 feet west of the site. A transfer station wasconstructed south of Parson's in 1893, and railroad spurs were set north through the westernportion of the site. An abandoned track remains along the western property line of Parson's. By1896, the transfer station consisted of a 400-foot long warehouse, a roundhouse, 15 miles of sidelines, and 3 miles of main track. The station serviced 25 engines per day, used about 17,000 tonsof coal, and handled more than 10,000 freight cars annually. In addition, 120 passenger trainsrolled through the station weekly. According to aerial photos, the station was removed sometime between 1924 and 1937.

Natural Resource Use

The North Branch of the Kishwaukee River and its tributaries are the flow routes for surfacedrainage in the Belvidere area. These are part of the Rock River Drainage Basin and flowsouthwest. The Kishwaukee River is about ½ mile southeast of the site and runs in an east-westdirection. It enters Boone County northeast of Garden Prairie and exits north of the NorthwestTollway (I-90) near Rockford. Piscasaw Creek is a main tributary of the Kishwaukee River andenters the river about ½ mile east of Belvidere.

The site is level, so little surface drainage would be expected. Any surface drainage from the siteis expected to flow southwest, west, and north. An 18-inch storm sewer line is west of the siteand discharges into the Kishwaukee River south of the site. Federal Flood Insurance Route Mapsfor Belvidere show that the site and most of the city are not in an area prone to flooding.

The regional groundwater flow is generally westward and eastward. Groundwater dischargeswest, to the Rock River, and east of the cone of depression that results from heavy pumping ofthe regional aquifers in the Chicago area. Groundwater can be found in all areas of Boone Countyas shallow as 15 feet, but not all of the shallow aquifers can produce enough water for domesticor industrial use. The vast majority of municipal water in Boone County comes from deeper aquifers.

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