The Fight to Increase the Clean Up at Contaminated Areas

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

Living just yards from a hot spot in Southeast Rockford's Groundwater Contamination Area, Rogelil Duarte is terrified of his own water tap.

"We haven't had any problems because we haven't drawn water from there, but I think that's a big concern, especially little kids getting them sick," Duarte said.

In 1981, after the EPA discovered industrial pollution in some Southeast Rockford private wells, officials spent a decade cleaning up the 10 square mile area and hooking up hundreds to cleaner city water. However, U.S. senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama say similar state polluted sites like Rockford's aren't getting enough federal funding, an argument shared by Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.

"The immediate public problem was remedied, but there are still hot spots and other areas that because of a lack of federal funds haven't been cleaned up," Scott said.

Duarte says he'll see cleanup crews pulling ground samples near his house several times a year. But since Rockford's site was tackled but not fully completed, he believes a larger effort - and larger federal dollars - should be a no-brainer.

"You're putting families at risk and little kids and things like that, so I think the government should provide more money so we should be able to drink the water," Duarte said.

Lingering health concerns felt directly by area residents, and being fought for by Illinois rep's in Washington.


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