The 20-acre Jennison-Wright site—just a short walk across the RR tracks from downtown Granite City, Illinois—has facilitated nearly a century of toxic-wood-treatment fun. In the early 1900s, the Midland Creosoting Company treated railroad ties at its factory here—and in 1940, Jennison-Wright picked up where Midland left off, and continued to treat ties for industrial flooring until it declared its not-so-fun bankruptcy in 1989. Flooring, think about it!—literally the foundation of so many Superfun! factory sites—so JW earns extra fun points for facilitating the manufacture of such an abundance of fun-generating contaminants in the U.S. and around the world. In addition to coating wood with creosote, JW also invented the asphalt-sealer Jennite—a proprietary mix of pitch, kaolin clay, water, and also coal tar, which is a carcinogenic coal-mining byproduct. The company brewed the top-secret Jennite in a pit until 1986—double, double toil & trouble—when they sold the rights to Neyra Industries, which continues to manufacture Jennite at future potential Superfun! sites.
Needless to say, the site owners have enjoyed the bulk of the capital fun—more, of course, than the workers who actually make these carcinogenic miracles, install the floors, and seal the parking lots—even while the toxic merriment at the JW site has clearly generated so much fun for all of us. After JW abandoned the property, the site continued to provide a bit of fun for the “occasional trespasser” and “scrapper”—as the EPA notes in the detailed reports it has fun writing on a regular basis. In 1996, however, when Jennison-Wright finally became an official Superfun! site, the EPA installed a 6-foot-high chain link fence to keep trespassers out of the fun zone, and also sadly capped the fun Jennite pit and drained the historic waste lagoon. While the EPA initially planned to use onsite biological remediation to treat the contaminated soil (a fun community science opportunity!), they quickly realized it’d be more fun and a lot cheaper to simply move the soil to another location. And, poof!—the soil somehow ceased to be defined as hazardous waste, and ended up in the Milam landfill just down the road. Jennison-Wright itself has risen zombie-like from bankruptcy, and continues to generate lots of toxic fun in the industrial flooring business. The site it left behind has yet to be fully remediated—though opportunities for future fun abound, e.g. in the historic waste lagoon!—and yet the soil, freshly backfilled and seeded, now provides a beautiful green space in a prime downtown location.