Rare Earths Facility
The Rare Earths Facility was a production plant for various chemicals and metals including thorium, uranium, and radium. It was located in West Chicago, Illinois, USA.
The site was opened in 1931 by the Lindsay Light and Chemical Company It processed ores like monazite to produce elements, including thorium and uranium. It also made gaslight mantles and during World War II it made hydrofluoric acid
In 1967 AMPOT, and thus the facility, were bought by Kerr-McGee.
In around 1970, Kerr-McGee reorganized and AMPOT became the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation (KMCC). The Rare Earths Facility was closed by Kerr-McGee in 1973.
In 2005 KMCC was spun off from Kerr-McGee as Tronox, shortly before Kerr-McGee was bought by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Tronox inherited responsibility for the Rare Earths Facility and other sites. Tronox went bankrupt in 2009 and shareholders sued Anadarko Petroleum, partly for having misled investors in Tronox about its environmental debts.
In the early years, people from the surrounding community used the mill tailings as fill dirt in various properties, such as their yards and gardens. A woman who played in such a yard as a child later sued Kerr-McGee over her Hodgkin's disease and settled out of court in 1988.
Radioactive waste from the plant was put in a local landfill that later became a public park called Reed-Keppler Park.
Kress Creek and West Branch Dupage River (including sediments, banks, and floodplains) were contaminated by years of rainwater runoff from REF going into a storm sewer and then into the creek. The floodplain includes people's yards.
The West Chicago Sewage Treatment Plant was contaminated when mill tailings from REF were used as fill dirt there. This also resulted in pollution of the West Branch Dupage River from runoff and erosion.
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