Collaboration Leads to Early Cleanup Completion at Joliet Army Ammunition Plant

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Business Parks

The Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA) 

was established by the State of Illinois pursuant to 

the Illinois Land Conservation Act of 1995. When 

JOAAP was decommissioned, Will County lost a major 

employer for its citizens. The mission of JADA was to 

facilitate and promote the reuse of 3,000 acres of 

JOAAP land with diversifi ed projects and land uses 

that would create new job opportunities and foster 

new economic development within the area of Will 


The location of JOAAP was originally selected 

because it was adjacent to a major railroad line and 

within commuting distance for a large pool of skilled 

labor in Chicago. These same features still make the 

property a great location to site a business. The fi rst 

transfer of land from the Army to JADA occurred in 

2000 and by 2005 JADA was successfully transforming 

JOAAP property into manufacturing and distribution 

business parks. The 1,500-acre CenterPoint Intermodal 

Center provides connection for multiple rail 

companies and the 770-acre ProLogis Park Arsenal 

features 12 million square feet of distribution space. 

The park also includes the 1,100-acre Island City 

Industrial Park, and the 300-acre International Union 

of Operating Engineers-Local 150 Apprenticeship and 

Skill Improvement Training Facility.

As of 2008, it is estimated that 1,770 construction jobs 

and 1,755 permanent jobs have been created as a 

result of the transfer and redevelopment of the 3,000 

acres of land transferred to JADA.

Prairie View Landfi ll

In 2002, 455 acres were deeded to Will County and 

IEPA granted authorization for Prairie View Landfi ll 

to begin operating in 2004. The Prairie View Landfi ll 

accepts non-hazardous municipal solid wastes and 

uses the latest landfi ll technology to be protective 

of the environment. These technologies include a 

leachate collection system, composite liner, ground 

water monitoring system, and surface water and 

gas management systems. There are also plans to 

install a system to capture and use the methane 

gas produced by decomposition in the landfi ll to 

generate electricity at the facility. It is expected that 

the landfi ll will serve the needs of the community into 


For more information, call or write:


Offi ce of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Offi ce  

1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Mail Code: 5106P

Washington, DC 20460-0001

Phone: (703) 603-0048

Visit the FFRRO Web site for more information 

about federal facility cleanups, including success 

stories, descriptions of new initiatives, policy and 

guidance documents, and our newsletter.

EPA-505-F-08-001     April 2008


Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office

Collaboration Leads to Early Cleanup Completion

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant 

The former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (JOAAP)—one of the largest and most productive ordnance 

complexes ever built—has a new identity as the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Abraham Lincoln 

National Cemetery, Prairie View Landfi ll, and several state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution 

business parks. After extensive environmental investigation and cleanup, and close collaboration 

between federal, state, and local governments, community groups, and the private sector, the 

cleanup of JOAAP was completed in early 2008 – three years ahead of schedule.


The 36-square mile JOAAP is located 40 miles southwest of Chicago in 

Will County, Illinois and was the site of vital operations in the protection 

and promotion of American welfare and security during World War 

II. Operations began in 1940 with the United States’ entrance into the 

war. During World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, JOAAP 

was used for the manufacture, loading, assembling, packaging and 

shipping of bombs, projectiles, fuses and supplementary charges. The 

plant was divided into two main areas based on operations:  the 14-

square mile Manufacturing Area and the 22-square mile Load, Assemble 

and Package Area. Activities at the Manufacturing Area included the production of chemical constituents 

of munitions, propellants and explosives, such as TNT and DNT, and an extensive explosives storage facility. It 

is estimated that up to 57 percent of the Army’s TNT was produced at 

the Manufacturing Area at JOAAP. Munitions were loaded, assembled 

and packaged for shipping at the 22-square mile Load, Assemble and 

Package Area. The plant served as a major local employer – employing 

over 20,000 people at the height of production in the 1940s and 

employing 8,000 people in the 1960s. As production declined, JOAAP 

was decommissioned in 1976 and by 1977 all production stopped. In 

1993, the Army declared JOAAP excess property and maintained a 

minimal staff at the installation. 


JOAAP Restoration Advisory Board 


In 1978, subsequent to the halt of operations at JOAAP, the U.S. 

Army Environmental Command Environmental Assessment identifi ed 

53 areas of concern and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

(U.S. EPA) commenced a Preliminary Assessment to determine 

areas requiring further investigation.

The Manufacturing Area and the Load, Assemble and Package 

Area were listed on U.S. EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 

1987 and 1989, respectively. Subsequently, a Federal Facilities 

Agreement was signed between the Army, U.S. EPA and the 

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to develop and 

coordinate environmental assessment and cleanup activities at 

JOAAP. The Federal Facilities Agreement initiated relationships that were critical to the cleanup process and 

remained strong over the next 17 years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Louisville District managed 

remedial design and construction efforts that included:  excavation and treatment or disposal of contaminated 

soils; capping of three landfi lls; excavation and disposal of two ash piles; monitoring of the natural attenuation 

of ground water; and investigation, removal and disposal of munitions and explosives-related devices and 


As part of the cleanup, 280,000 tons of explosive-contaminated 

soil was treated at a bioremediation facility constructed on-

site. The soil underwent an average 32-day process of bacterial 

bioremediation and the treated soil was then used to restore grade 

and drainage at numerous areas around JOAAP. Approximately 

120,000 tons of non-explosive-contaminated soil and 487,000 

tons of ash were excavated and disposed appropriately off-site. 

Additionally, more than 8,100 munitions and explosive-related items 

were removed and disposed. Natural attenuation of ground water 

at the site continues to be monitored.


With the 1993 Army declaration that JOAAP was excess 

property, the 24-person Joliet Arsenal Citizens Planning 

Commission assembled to develop a reuse plan for the 

JOAAP property that would be both complementary 

to the needs and desires of the local community and 

appropriate for the protection of human health and the 

environment. The commission included representatives 

from federal, state and local government and non-

government organizations. A reuse plan served as the 

basis for the Illinois Land Conservation Act of 1995, which 

authorized the cleanup and transfer of 19,100 acres of 

the JOAAP property to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 

Forest Service to establish the Midewin National Tallgrass 

Prairie. The remaining acreage was cleaned up and 

transferred as follows:

982 acres to the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

455 acres to Will County for the Prairie View Landfi ll

3,000 acres to the State of Illinois for several business parks:  CenterPoint Intermodal Center, ProLogis 

Park Arsenal, Island City Industrial Park, and an engineer Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Center


Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Named for a local Potawatomi word meaning 

“Grand Medicine Society”, the Midewin National 

Tallgrass Prairie was established in 1996 and

is the fi  rst national tallgrass prairie in the country.

The fi rst transfer of JOAAP land was completed in 

1997 when 15,080 acres of lands that did not require 

cleanup were transferred to the auspices of the U.S. 

Forest Service. Subsequent land transfers occurred as 

the remediation process progressed.

The ecological value of the JOAAP property was 

established through surveys contracted by the 

Department of Defense and conducted by the 

Nature Conservancy and the Illinois Department of 

Natural Resources in 1993. It is estimated that less than 

one percent of native Illinois prairies remain intact 

today, highlighting the signifi cance of this protected 


When fi rst transferred, less than three percent of the 

acreage was undisturbed and contained native 

vegetation. As specifi ed under the Illinois Land 

Conservation Act of 1995 establishing the 

In 1995, the JOAAP Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) was established to ensure community involvement and 

participation in the cleanup and reuse plans for JOAAP. Composed of community members representative 

of the diverse local interests, the JOAAP RAB met regularly over the next ten years, from January 1996 until 

September 2007, and provided vital input throughout the cleanup process.

With the combined efforts of many parties with an interest in JOAAP, the cleanup and reuse plans established 

an integrated approach to addressing the Manufacturing Area and the Load, Assemble and Package Area 

simultaneously. This approach helped achieve a coordinated and ultimately more effi cient process, as cleanup 

could be tailored to the future use of the area. Including the community early and often ensured consideration 

of their needs and promoted local support for the planned reuse. 

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

In 1999, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery 

was dedicated as the 117th Department of Veterans 

Affairs national cemetery. When fully developed, this 

982-acre cemetery will provide 400,000 burial spaces; 

a public information center; three committal service 

shelters; and a carillon and Kiosk grave locator. The 

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery also features a 

memorial walk that commemorates soldiers of 20th 

century wars on 11 memorials.

Congressman George E. Sangmeister, a veteran 

of the Korean War, served as a representative 

and senator in the State of Illinois, 1973-87, and a 

U.S. Representative from Illinois, 1988-95. He was 

instrumental in the acquisition of 982 acres from 

the former Joliet Arsenal and its redevelopment as 

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.


national prairie, the Midewin Land and Resource 

Management Plan was completed in 2002 as an 

outline to restore the prairie habitat and provide 

opportunities for research, education and recreation. 

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