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The purpose of this health consultation is to evaluate the public health significance of current site conditions at the Petersen Sand and Gravel Company. On September 29, 1993, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a Site Review and Update (SRU) prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). For this health consultation, IDPH reviewed the historical and environmental data available since the release of the SRU.


The Petersen Sand and Gravel site is about 2 miles north of Libertyville, Lake County, Illinois, northeast of the intersection of Illinois Routes 21 and 137 (Attachment 1). The site is bordered by the Des Plaines River to the west; by Route 137 to the south; by River Road, forest preserve land and private homes to the east; and by agricultural land and small businesses to the north.


In 1952, the property owner purchased approximately 30 acres of land west, and 20 acres east of the Des Plaines River. The owner began sand and gravel operations on both parcels of land later that same year. Between 1955 and 1958, the owner allowed dumping of refuse in the 3 to 4-acre worked-out portion of the gravel pit on the east side of the river. This refuse reportedly consisted of construction debris, trees, tires, and other nonhazardous materials. In 1968, the Lake County Health Department (LCHD) discovered that refuse was being dumped into the gravel pit. The owner was notified to discontinue the disposal activities because no permit had been obtained to receive these wastes. LCHD documented illegal dumping during reinspections of the site in 1969 and 1970. Materials observed during these reinspections included tires, paint cans, auto body parts, plastic remnants, mattresses, sofas, wood, boxes, brush, construction and demolition debris, household garbage, and galvanized pipe.

In addition to the debris, hazardous materials such as paint, paint wastes, and solvents were also reportedly disposed of at the site between 1970 and 1972. Two neighbors who lived nearby reported that about 50 drums filled with an oily liquid were disposed of in the pit. Between 1971 and 1972, a Libertyville Township supervisor stated that he saw hundreds of 50-gallon drums, many of which were full, and hundreds of 5-gallon buckets containing paint residues. A complaint filed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) against the owner states that oil was deposited along the top of the bank of the Des Plaines River sometime after July 1, 1970 and before October 12, 1971, and that it created a water pollution hazard. In 1971, the owner requested a permit to operate a landfill at the site, but the request was denied. On September 29, 1971, Illinois EPA directed the owner to close the site after further reports of illegal dumping.

In April 1976, Illinois EPA received a complaint from a witness stating that approximately 500 barrels of paint and solvent waste were buried in a berm on the site. Illinois EPA inspected the site and saw 10 to 15 uncovered barrels near a berm in the northeast corner of the site. In 1976, the Lake County Circuit Court ordered the excavation and removal of waste from this area. In 1977, the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) purchased some land along the east bank of the Des Plaines River that included the pit. In August 1983, LCFPD uncovered additional drums during land reconstruction work. The size of the drum burial area was estimated to be 50 feet wide (east to west), 100 feet long, and 15 feet deep. In November 1983, a contractor removed approximately 400 drums from this area and 2,621 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The site was graded after removal operations.

In 1984, the site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL). In 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois EPA signed a cooperative agreement for Illinois EPA to perform a Remedial Investigation (RI) at the site. A final RI report was completed in April 1988. A review of the RI indicated that contaminants were not present at levels of public health concern, and therefore, a feasibility study was not necessary.

On August 25, 1988, ATSDR released a Public Health Assessment (PHA) for the site, which concluded that the site was not of public health concern at that time because no completed human exposure pathways were identified [1]. In February 1991, the site was removed from the NPL.

In September 1993, ATSDR released an SRU for Petersen Sand and Gravel. The SRU concluded that the previous removal activities at the site were adequate to protect human health and the environment and that the site still posed no public health hazard [2].


IDPH staff have visited the site several times, most recently on February 26, 2001. The site was accessible and only a wooden fence surrounded it. No activity was seen on the site. The adjacent properties consist of commercial and industrial operations in addition to residential properties.


IDPH contacted Illinois EPA to determine the current status of site activities. No new activities have occurred at the site since the 1993 SRU. LCFPD now owns the site. Plans have been presented to turn the area into a large recreational lake. A trail is currently being built along the Des Plaines River, which borders the site on the west side. The sampling conducted during the 1988 RI indicated that the site has levels of contamination that slightly exceed background levels in soil, surface water, and groundwater. None of these contaminants were at levels that would cause adverse health effects.


IDPH recognizes that children are especially sensitive to some contaminants. For that reason, IDPH includes children when evaluating exposures to contaminants. Children are the most sensitive population considered in this health consultation. IDPH does not anticipate children that will be exposed to contaminants at this site.


The conclusions of both previous documents that the site currently poses no public health hazard are still applicable.


Based on current site conditions, there are no recommendations.


Jennifer Davis
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health


  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public health assessment for Petersen Sand and Gravel, Libertyville, Lake County, Illinois. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; August 25, 1988.

  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Site review and update for Petersen Sand and Gravel, Libertyville, Lake County, Illinois. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; September 29, 1993.


This Peterson Sand and Gravel Health Consultation was prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig


Approximate Location of Petersen Sand and Gravel

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
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