Villa measure to close Kerr-McGee in West Chicago passes Senate

SPRINGFIELD – From 1932 to 1973, the Kerr-McGee Rare Earths Facility in West Chicago produced large amounts of radioactive materials, which later contaminated hundreds of residences in West Chicago. The facility has been in the process of decommissioning since 1994, and a measure championed by State Senator Karina Villa to finalize its closure passed the Senate on Friday.

“This measure is the final step of a decades-long initiative to provide the residents of West Chicago a safe environment,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “Closing this chapter of our city’s history will provide our community with the security to move forward.”

Currently, West Chicago is in the final phase of remediation, which involves the treatment of groundwater at the location of the factory site. The treatment is scheduled to conclude by fall 2026. Afterward, the city is planning to develop a community park on the facility’s former site.

Senate Bill 3279 would allow the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Homeland Security to approve the request of terminating Kerr-McGee’s radioactive materials license via municipal and county ordinances restricting ground water use, which protect public safety and the property.

“Our community will continue to be resilient,” said Villa. “We must focus our efforts on remediation and ensure that an event like this never occurs again.”

Senate Bill 3279 passed the Senate on Friday and moves to the House for further consideration.