Also Known As: Washington Park Armory
Time Period: AWE 1942-1951; Residual Radiation 1952-1986; DOE 1987 (remediation)
Facility Type: Atomic Weapons Employer Department of Energy
Facility Description: In the 1940s, the Manhattan Project leased the National Guard Armory from the State of Illinois for uranium processing and radioactive material storage. In 1951, the site was returned to the State of Illinois.
Although this site was designated as part of the Formerly Utilized Site Remediation Action Program (FUSRAP) in 1985, the only year in which remediation work took place was 1987.
During the period of residual contamination, as designated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and as noted in the dates above, employees of subsequent owners and operators of this facility are also covered under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
*Site Description and History:
The Chicago North, Illinois, Site (formerly the National Guard Armory) is located at East 52nd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago, approximately 6 miles south of the downtown business district. The 290,000-square-foot concrete and stone facility consists of an arena with bleachers at the center of the building, and classrooms, offi ces, storage areas, and garages at the north and south ends.
In 1942, the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) leased the National Guard Armory to store and process uranium metal. The MED also used the armory as the main procurement and shipping location for its Metallurgical Laboratory. Although not verifi ed by historical records, the armory storeroom was believed to have been used to store uranium shavings and grinding wastes. One of several uranium fi res was reported to have occurred in the northeast corner of the armory storeroom. A second fire also contaminated both the receiving area and the storeroom.
The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which succeeded the MED, terminated the use of the armory in 1951 and returned the site to the State of Illinois. MED disposed of contaminated soil removed from the arena. According to interviews with personnel, an effort was made to decontaminate some arena bleachers as well. No records could be found to indicate where the contaminated material was taken or whether radiological surveys or decontamination was conducted. Because of these uncertainties, the Energy Research and Development Agency, predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), conducted a comprehensive radiological survey to determine whether any contamination remained at the site.
Results of the survey, which was performed from September 1977 to October 1978, indicated that residual contamination at the site exceeded guidelines in effect at that time and that uranium was the primary contaminant of concern. Based on these results, DOE designated the Chicago North site for remedial action under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP).
Remediation activities included (1) vacuuming or wiping surface areas; (2) sanding, grinding, or scrabbling the areas, when necessary; (3) shoveling out sludge in six catch basins, high-pressure water cleaning of pipes from each catch basin, and sandblasting walls; and (4) removing contaminated soil from the area outside the armory building and from the area between catch basins where a main pipe was removed.
National Guard Armory is listed as an Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) site and as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.
National Guard Armory Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, even if your claim has been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY.