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Cleanup begins at abandoned medical building in Cairo, Ill.


Cleanup is now under way at the abandoned Southern Medical Center facility in Cairo, Ill. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Superfund team, in consultation with Illinois EPA, will manage the $1.2 million project. Work is expected to continue into early July.

Southern Medical Center, at 2020 Cedar St., opened in 1958 as St. Mary’s Hospital. It has been closed since the mid-1980s.

Environmental hazards in the three buildings on the property include frayed asbestos-wrapped piping, floor surfaces containing asbestos, drums and small containers of unidentified flammable and hazardous chemicals, and medical equipment containing small amounts of mercury. At least two underground storage tanks will also be removed.

Residents can expect to see workers in required protective equipment, along with construction vehicles coming and going from the site. EPA will take steps to eliminate potential airborne contamination during the work and conduct air quality monitoring along the site perimeter.

Solid waste from the site, including asbestos materials, will be sent to a landfill in Jackson County. Waste chemicals will be packed for special handling and disposal.

EPA’s Superfund program is initially paying for the cleanup. On a separate track, an investigation to identify potentially responsible parties who may be able to pay for some or all of the work is continuing.

Residents with questions about the Southern Medical Center cleanup may call Community Involvement Coordinator Mike Joyce, (800) 621-8431, Ext. 35546, or Photos from the project will be posted in the weeks ahead at


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