Statement from CDPH on Hegewisch Neighborhood Ballfield Cleanup

June 4, 2021

On Tuesday, June 8, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) will begin remediation work at the Babe Ruth Ballfield, on the southwest corner of East 126th Place and South Carondolet Avenue in the Hegewisch neighborhood, to remove and dispose of soil containing elevated levels of manganese.

An approximately 70-feet by 80-feet area is set to be remediated by CDPH. The scope of work will follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) workplan for Hegewisch Little League Field. It will include removal and disposal of the entire surface area where the manganese exceedance was found. CDPH’s work will take 2 to 3 weeks to complete.

CDPH requested a soil assessment of the ballfield by the US EPA. The assessment revealed an elevated manganese concentration in one section of the field. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) determined that the health risk to residents was low and that the ballfield did not need to be closed.

CDPH is committed to protecting the health and wellness of Southeast Side residents, and out of an abundance of caution, CDPH will remediate the ballfield.

Since December of 2018, US EPA and CDPH have been closely monitoring the operations of several companies that store and handle manganese on the Southeast Side. This includes air monitoring requirements, site inspections and citations when necessary, assessing the community for impacts, and developing strong regulations to protect the health and safety of the surrounding community. In 2019, the US EPA took soil samples from neighborhood residences, Hegewisch Little League Field and Virgil Grissom Elementary School to assess potential impacts to the community. None of those results showed levels of manganese above the US EPA standard for soil removal.

Samples from Hegewisch Little League Field did show elevated levels of lead and arsenic, so this site was remediated by US EPA. Following an initial assessment by CDPH, US EPA also took soil samples from Babe Ruth Ballfield in June 2020. These samples found elevated levels of manganese on the northeast corner of Babe Ruth Ballfield. Because this area of the field was covered by grass, IDPH considered the risk of exposure for people using the field to be low.

Manganese, is a naturally occurring substance used to make steel and is found in several consumer products. It is also an essential nutrient and a small amount of it in the diet is important to stay healthy, but at excess amounts it can be harmful to the brain.

CDPH will ensure this work is done safely with continuous monitoring. There will be four air monitoring stations on-site, which will include daily sampling for particulates and real-time, continuous dust measurement. The work area will also be enclosed by construction fencing with a wind screen to prevent dust from escaping. Field work will include excavation and removal of manganese-contaminated soil, backfilling excavated areas to original grade with clean topsoil, and restoring landscaping. Newly-laid sod will be watered and maintained by the Babe Ruth Ballfield maintenance team.

Please contact CDPH at 312-747-9884 or with any questions about this process.