Matthiessen and Hegeler is the site of a former zinc rolling mill and primary zinc smelter. The 160-acre property is located in LaSalle on the west side of the Little Vermilion River. The company began operations in 1858 and ceased operations in 1978 after declaring bankruptcy.
During the approximately 120 years of the company's existence, the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company produced slab zinc, sulfuric acid and ammonium sulfate fertilizer. These processes resulted in the emission of airborne particulate matter containing cadmium, lead, zinc and other inorganic chemicals. Additional manufacturing operations occurred in conjunction with the smelting process. A producer gas plant was operated on the site in the early years to manufacture fuel for the Hegeler furnace. Coal was mined on the site until 1937. During the 1950s, the company produced ammonium sulfate fertilizer. In 1961, the company stopped smelting zinc. The manufacture of sulfuric acid was discontinued in 1968, and from 1968 until closing in 1978, the facility only did rolling operations.
1979. After declaring bankruptcy, the Matthiessen and Hegeler property was sold at auction.
1993. Illinois EPA collected three sediment samples from the Little Vermilion River, seven on-site soil and 13 off-site soil samples for a preliminary evaluation of possible effects of past Matthiessen and Hegeler operation and in preparation for scoring the site for possible inclusion on the NPL.
1995. Illinois EPA held a public meeting in LaSalle to discuss sample results.
June 2001. The U.S. EPA and Illinois EPA proposed the site for the NPL. The proposal opened a public comment period.
September 2003. The U.S. EPA finalized the site on the NPL.