fairfield coal gasification plant

101 S 7TH ST

The Fairfield Coal Gasification Plant site occupies one city block between West Burlington and West Washington avenues in Fairfield. The plant produced a natural gas substitute from coal between 1878 and 1950. The plant has been owned and operated by Iowa Electric Light and Power since 1917. Since 1950, the utility has used the site as an operations facility. The main wastes are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are found in the coal tar left over from the gasification process, and cyanide salts left in the iron oxide waste produced when the gas was purified. Operators sold some of the coal tar and buried some in an earthen pit on the site or dumped it in a nearby ditch. Disposal methods for the iron-cyanide waste are unknown, but it also may have been dumped on site. In 1985, the utility found that ground water near the site was contaminated. The utility began a monitoring program to assure that private wells were unaffected. EPA became involved in 1987, by conducting an expanded site investigation, installing and sampling on- and off-site monitoring wells, and conducting surface and subsurface soil sampling. In 1989, Iowa Electric found that the foundation for a gas holder was the main source of the ground water contamination. The gas holder was removed and destroyed in the 1950s, and wastes were dumped or left in its place. An estimated 1,000 people live within 1 mile of the site; 9,000 live within 3 miles. The local drinking water supply depends on both surface water and ground water, and serves 11,000 people. There are 23 drinking water wells within a 3-mile radius of the site; the closest is 1,900 feet away. Shallow and deep ground water wells are within 2 miles of the site. The closest well uses the shallow aquifer. Cedar Creek is less than 3 miles downslope of the site and is used for recreation.

Hazardous Ranking Score

38 / 100

A score of 28.5 or higher qualifies a site for the Superfund National Priority List.

Regional Contact

Region 7
Phone: (913) 551-7003

Contact Region



Site Inspection
Preliminary Assessment
Final Listing On NPL

Contaminants & Health Effects

      Endocrine Disrupter
      Reproductive Toxin
      Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


        African American
        American Indian and Alaska Native
        Native Hawaiian


        People living
        within a 1 mile radius


        Average Income


        Occupied homes

        Potentially Responsible Parties

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