CRAB ORCHARD, IL -
It's summertime and people are heading to local lakes, but there's one place that people are being asked to avoid.
Beginning Monday, a boat ramp on Crab Orchard Lake will be closed for the removal of soil, contaminated by old corroded leaking fuel tanks from the former Images Marina.
It's located just south of Highway 13, roughly a mile and a half west of John A. Logan College.
For years the area surrounding the old Images Marina on Crab Orchard Lake has been one of fisherman Zachary Green's favorite spots, and he's not alone.
"I was out here like a month ago and there were 13 or 14 people," said Zachary Green. "There's always people out here on their boats and everything. This is one of the nicer areas in my opinion."
The fishing in the Prairie Creek area may be good, but years after the old marina has closed the ground nearby still holds a dirty little secret according to deputy refuge manager Kevin Sloan.
"We had the fuel storage tanks removed about ten years ago and they've left a little bit of contamination in the soil due to leaking tanks," said Crab Orchard Deputy Refuge Manager Kevin Sloan.
Monday contractors will begin stripping a 40 foot section of dirt until they hit groundwater hoping to remove any hazards years of leaking tanks and lead gas have left behind.
"Anytime there is concern for contamination of water here that is so important to recreation and fishing here at the refuge we're concerned," said Sloan. "The idea now is to remove the contaminated soil before it does reach the lake."
Years of testing have shown that the area is safe and wildlife has not been affected, but still some area airing on the side of caution and releasing their prized catch.
"If you're catching and eating fish from here that's kind of an important thing," said Green. "I would definitely think twice about it and not have to have that sitting on my conscience or have to think about it. It would suck to not be able to work because got sick from the lake."
The Prairie Creek boat ramp will be closed to the public for safety reasons during the cleanup.
Sloan estimates the cleanup should take about a week if the weather cooperates.