Former Manufactured Gas Plant (FMGP)/Coal Tar Site GIS Project

A 1909 Photograph of a Chicago Area Coal Gas PlantA 1902 Photograph of a Gasometer on Deering Street in Chicago

(Photographs DN-0055148 (1909) & DN-0000002 (1902), Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society)

The environmental industry has long recognized the potential for many contamination problems at sites related to this largely historic gas utility industry. In Illinois, these sites have been documented to extend as far back in history as 150 years. Some contininued to operate into the 1950s until they were supplanted by the cheaper, cleaner and more efficient natural gas. After recognizing the deficiencies in the existing data used to identify and locate these problematic sites, a geographical information system (GIS) mapping project of this data was begun in the spring of 2003. Since these sites can be quite large and since their areas tended to change over time, a polygon coverage was chosen. As of June 2004, over 170 of these sites have been identified throughout the state. This GIS mapping of FMGP sites is perhaps the first program of its kind. Often, historical aerial photos, local area research and old fire insurance maps have been used to verify the locations and extents of these sites. The ESA Section has put this information to good use in our transportation planning work for IDOT and the citizens of Illinois.

Environmental Site Assessments Section contact: Greg Kientop