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  4. Embarras River Bottoms State Habitat Area - The Former Indian Refinery

Embarras River Bottoms State Habitat Area - The Former Indian Refinery 

Lawrence County

The injury site was listed on the National Priorities List, or Superfund, in 2000, due to contamination from various hazardous substances resulting from decades of operation as a refinery. The contamination affected wetlands that are hydraulically connected to the nearby Embarras River.

In 2011, the IDNR and IEPA, represented by the Illinois Attorney General, reached a settlement agreement with Texaco Inc., a former owner of the refinery. The State of Illinois entered into a Consent Order with Texaco in U.S. District Court that will preserve and enhance ecological features in the area south and east of the former refinery.

The Consent Order include provisions for the transfer by Texaco to IDNR of approximately 2,300 acres of land south of the former refinery, and for the IDNR and IEPA to restore and enhance habitat on those tracts, which are located in the Embarras River watershed. The settlement includes funding for the IDNR and IEPA to undertake ecological restoration activities, groundwater management assistance, and related expenses as compensation for releases of oil and hazardous substances into the environment at and near the 990-acre former refinery, which ceased operation in 1995. Environmental cleanup activities on the refinery property - directed by the U.S. EPA and IEPA - have been ongoing since the mid 1990s.

Much of the area targeted for restoration work will provide habitat for songbirds, marsh birds and migratory birds as well as a number of other wetland-dependent animals. A number of animal and plant species of conservation concern, including several on the state list of threatened or endangered species, have been documented in the area.

In June 2011, approximately 2000 acres were transferred to the state with an additional 160 received in May 2012. The remaining 240 acres are awaiting transfer. The restoration property has been named: Embarras River Bottoms State Habitat Area (ERBSHA). Restoration funds for the property were received August 2011 and planning activities are following the Federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment guidelines set forth in 43 CFR Part 11.