News Local/State

Ameren to Begin Decontaminating Champaign’s 5th and Hill


In about a week, Ameren Illinois is poised to decontaminating soil at the Fifth and Hill street site in Champaign, located in an area that once housed a manufactured gas plant.

Ameren now owns the property. The decontamination process is expected to take up to six months, and it involves using steel pipes to inject a chemical into the ground that is meant to break down the toxicity of the soil.

The chemical, which consists of iron and hydrogen peroxide, will be injected at various depths from approximately three to 40 feet.

Brian Martin is a consulting environmental scientist for Ameren, and he is the project manager of the cleanup effort. He said the chemicals used will not be hazardous to the general public.

“It doesn’t present any odor concerns, anything like that,” Martin said. “People around the property won’t notice pretty much anything. All the work is going to be done on our property, and what it does is essentially oxidize the contaminants. It breaks them down into harmless, essentially water, carbon dioxide and other innocuous compounds.”

From 2009 through 2011, Ameren excavated soil from the site by replacing contaminated soil with clean soil. Claudia Lennhoff, the executive director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers, said Ameren should return to that process.

“While we’re glad that the contamination there is being treated, we question about whether that form of remediation is good enough compared to what was done on the rest of the property,” Lennhoff said.

The Illinois’ Environmental Protection Agency approved the cleanup project, which begins Monday.