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Suspects Charged In Suspected Arson At Old Pillsbury Plant

Two people have been charged in connection with a suspected arson fire last year at the old Pillsbury Mills site in Springfield.

Read the full story at WMAY.com…

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Pillsbury Plant Owner Gets Three Years in Prison for Knowingly Exposing Workers to Asbestos

This February, we saw a federal judge crack down on the reckless and negligent handling of asbestos removal by a Pillsbury plant owner based in Springfield, Illinois. Joseph J. Chernis IV was sentenced to 3 years and 1 month in prison for the illegal removal of asbestos at his plant.

Placing the Public at Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Placing workers and the public in danger, Chernis first violated federal clean air regulations when he let untrained workers remove asbestos from a former Pillsbury mill. The asbestos was then stored in uncovered containers, along with plastic bags and cardboard boxes. When a different lawsuit was filed by the state of Illinois regarding these violations, Chernis allegedly lied about the removal and storage of asbestos at the mill. The presence of asbestos at the Pillsbury mill endangered not only the disposal workers but the community at large.

Springfield’s Fire Marshal Chris Richmond stated:

“The site has a significant past history, other than the ownership, of folks in the community breaking into or trespassing in that facility for a variety of purposes. In some cases, it’s been young folks, juveniles, curious about an old factory complex.”

Read the full article at MesotheliomaHope.com…

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Sherman Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Violating Clean Air Act Related to Asbestos Removal at Former Pillsbury Plant

U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough today ordered a Sherman, Ill., man, Joseph J. Chernis, IV, to serve 37 months in federal prison for failure to adequately remove and dispose of asbestos material, violations of the Clean Air Act, at the former Pillsbury Mills facility in Springfield. Following his prison term, Chernis, 35, was ordered to remain on supervised release for a period of three years. Chernis was ordered to self-report to prison when directed by the Bureau of Prisons. 

Read the full article at Justice.gov…

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A mill’s tale

Pillsbury descends into Superfund status

Ann Ridgeway was on her porch when the crash came.

No one had told neighbors that a massive metal building was going to fall that day in October 2014. Towering more than 10 stories, the so-called dryer building – locals say artificial sweetener was once made there – produced plenty of dust and debris in its death throe.

“It looked like something was on fire,” Ridgeway recalls. Brian Dearco was repairing his roof a couple blocks away from Ridgeway’s home, directly across the street from the mill.

“As soon as the building came down, millions of mosquitoes and gnats came out,” Dearco says. “I broke out in a rash. My wife did, too. … You could smell it in the air after that building came down. It smelled like gas, so the fire department came.”

Responding to reports of a collapsed building, fire engines swarmed. But there was nothing to worry about, an owner of the site assured firefighters – he had a permit to demolish the building, according to fire marshal Chris Richmond. And so the fire engines left, and work resumed, with crews sorting through rubble to recover scrap.

There was, in fact, plenty to worry about.

Read the full article at IllinoisTimes.com…

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US EPA Cleanup

November 2017 Update

This project has been completed.

U.S. EPA removed, transported, and disposed of asbestos-contaminated waste inside and outside of every building. The site has been turned over to Illinois EPA.

The cleanup, which lasted about nine months, involved removing waste materials after being separated into the following categories:

  • Friable asbestos-containing construction debris
  • Friable asbestos‐containing pipe wrap and boiler insulation materials
  • Unknown drums
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Laboratory chemicals
  • Universal wastes

The majority of the asbestos waste was loaded into lined trucks or dumpsters/roll-off containers. Any debris that was too large for transport was mechanically demolished prior to load and transport. Depending on the location, some waste (i.e., drummed and universal waste streams) was temporarily stockpiled inside an “outbuilding” prior to transport and disposal. Nearly 2,200 tons of contaminated debris, 1,160 cubic yards of contaminated pipe wrap and boiler insulation, nine 275-gallon totes of waste/fuel oil, three 55-gallon gallon drums of waste anti-freeze, 3,700 fluorescent light bulbs, and 12 pounds of mercury were removed and shipped off-site.

During the cleanup, U.S. EPA also took measures to keep any asbestos-contaminated dust from blowing off-site. The air was monitored to ensure the asbestos was under control. Security was provided around the clock to prevent trespassing.

Read the full report at EPA.gov…

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Local business notes: Progress at last on Pillsbury Mills site?

Ten years ago this spring, a group of Springfield economic development planners, elected officials, real-estate specialists, environmentalists, residents and business owners gathered at Lanphier High School to consider the future of the Pillsbury Mills plant on the city’s northeast side.

Ideas included restaurants, hotels, mini-parks, residential development, bike trails, retail shops and state offices. Someone even floated the possibility of former grain silos as climbing towers.

Fast forward to last week and a federal indictment handed down against one of the property owners who is accused of improperly removing asbestos from the abandoned plant and later making false statements about it in a separate court case. The federal and state cases are likely to take months, if not longer, to resolve. Meanwhile, the 18-acre site at 1529 Phillips St. is in its 15th year since Cargill Corp. shut the facility down.

The spring 2006 meeting followed a 2005 “charrette” — a French term for short, intense planning sessions — to gather neighborhood suggestions for future use of the property. Funding was a question, too. The cost of knocking down the massive, blast-resistant silos alone, consultants said, could be prohibitive.

“I was there,” said John Keller, president of the Pillsbury Mills Neighborhood Association.

The ideas never went beyond planning sessions. But Keller said last week he remains hopeful that at least some of the plans pitched in 2006 could still be useful, once the court cases are settled.

“It’s hard to know right now which way it’s going to fall,” said Keller, though he added that he expected there would at least be a proper asbestos cleanup this time.

“It’s going to happen; we just don’t know when,” he said. “I think we’re going to hear more in the next couple of weeks.”

Read the full story at SJ-R.com…

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(RE)COVERED: Reclaimed Timber from Pillsbury

Have you ever walked into your kitchen in the morning and been greeted by the sweet familiar smell of cinnamon rolls? Not just any cinnamon rolls though, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth with an embrace of warm, cinnamon-y sweetness. Now imagine having a kitchen that does that all the time.

Bring the warmth and comfort of Pillsbury to your kitchen permanently with the help of Reclaimed Timber Products. You can now incorporate Pillsbury into the very walls of your kitchen with the reclaimed timber from the deconstructed Pillsbury Plant in Springfield, Illinois.

Built in 1929, the Pillsbury Mill occupied the corner of 15th and Phillips streets in Springfield, IL. The plant continued to grow through the next decade adding a 2 million-bushel wheat storage elevator and a fifth floor to the specialty building. Later, a $1 million addition was revealed to double the plant’s capacity. The Springfield Pillsbury enterprise was one of the most technologically advanced operations in the country in the 1930’s.

Read the full article at CraftMarkInc.com…

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Game of charrettes

Sounds as if there’s a lot of work to do to bring life to the derelict Pillsbury site

Here are some of the ideas proposed last week for the old Pillsbury Mill site: fancy apartments, an agricultural museum, a biodiesel plant, a casino, a movie theater, a biotechnology-research center, a skate park, a clinic, an amphitheater, a microbrewery, a storage area, a grocery store, and a vocational-training center. A Methodist minister tossed in the idea of building a church; a Springfield cop suggested a strip club. Working in small groups, participants in a planning process known as a charrette kicked around ideas and discussed the challenges of transforming the derelict industrial property on the east side of town into . . . whatever they want.

The consensus?

Whatever becomes of the site, the land should be mixed-use, create jobs, and, perhaps to the dismay of the good reverend, increase the city’s tax base, all while using “green” design principles. As these stakeholders discussed design principles and the possibility of tax-increment financing, neighborhood residents Roy and Robert (they would not give last names), held a brainstorming session of their own, separate from the charrette. The pair said they had heard about the redevelopment plan on the radio but didn’t know about the meeting at Lanphier High School on Friday. However, the men offered Illinois Times their opinions of some of the ideas offered at the meeting.

Read the full story at IllinoisTimes.com…