Life in DePue Village residents and a large number of visitors come to the DePue Boat Races every year, including in the summer of 2015. 500 acre Lake DePue, on which the races are held, is contaminated with toxic levels of heavy metals, including lead and arsenic. Residents and racers view boats to be raced in Lake DePue in the summer of 2015. The lake is unusable for swimming and most fish cannot survive in the lake due to its toxic levels of pollution. Joe Garcia is 87 and owned a prominent business, the Giants Den, in DePue for 36 years. Pictured here along Lake DePue in October 2015, he thinks about his long life in DePue and the many disabilitations his friends and family have faced due to the pollution covering the town. A 750,000 ton slag pile that local residents call “the pile of black death” still looms over the town. (Photo October 2015) The pile is made up of toxic waste from zinc smelting and other industrial operations that still pollute the town to this day. Eric Bryant, President of the Village of DePue, looks over the drain pipe from a former zinc smelting plant that polluted his town for decades. “This is an environmental disaster happening right here in Illinois,” Eric said in October 2015. “The responsible companies have to clean up the pollution they left behind.” In October 2015, Joe Manrriquez looked over the former zinc smelting site where pollution still drains from a pipe into Lake DePue. His family used to grow vegetable gardens in the land he overlooks, but the Responsible Companies eventually warned him the food was too dangerous to eat from the polluted site. Polluted water still drains from the former site of the zinc smelting plant, onto village streets, and into Lake DePue when heavy storms hit. (October 2015). In October 2015, DePue High School students discuss living in a dangerously polluted town for their entire lives. “It’s like having two lives,” one student says. “We have fun like any other group of kids, but we know the town where we live and play could be poisoning us.” Ruben Barajas is a father and grandfather who has lived in DePue his entire life. Pictured here along Lake DePue in October 2015, the first thing he says when his grandchildren get near the water is, “Stay out of the water.” Beverly Harrison is a longtime resident of DePue and a member of DePue’s Citizens Advisory Group (CAG). “I’ve lived most of my life in the pollution these companies caused, and I can’t imagine the children here today living with more of it, if the delays continue,” says Beverly. “It’s heartbreaking.” “I feel like at this point the companies are just waiting for us to die.” –Gavin Garcia, high school student living in DePue. “The companies agreed to clean up their pollution 20 years ago and they still haven’t done it,” DePue student Gavin Garcia said in October 2015. “I feel like at this point the companies are just waiting for us to die.” DePue High School students discuss the toxic level of pollution in their town in October 2015. One student, whose parents are business owners in DePue, states, “I want to build a life here and I want to have a family. I love this town, but the pollution is hurting us.” Workers at the now-closed New Jersey Zinc plant often worked in extremely hot conditions and were afforded no protective gear. Jesus Garcia, Servando Moreno and Adiline Gavina stand in front of Lake DePue. Michael Narea, a Northwestern student, shows a prototype of the Cleanup DePue website to DePue high school students. Gabby Garcia stands in front of the 750,000 ton zinc slag pile. Beth Potthoff, a DePue resident, is frustrated by the fact that ExxonMobil and CBS Viacom have not made a comprehsnsive cleanup effort. Dead fish are a common site along the shores of Lake DePue. Dead fish are a common site along the shores of Lake DePue. Gabby Garcia stands outside the former plant site which takes up much of the town. Gabby Garcia amd her father, Keith, stand outside the former plant site. DePue teenagers are warned not to swim in the lake by their parents. The sole remaining building from the former plant site houses a water treatment plant that collects contaminated water from the slag pile. Servando Moreno, a DePue High student, skips a rock on Lake DePue. Close-up shot of the 750,000 ton zinc slag pile that greets visitors when they drive into DePue, Illinois. A 750,000 ton zinc slag pile greets visitors when they drive into DePue, Illinois. Blue, green, and red tinted water flowed from the slag pile to Lake DePue. Workers at the now-closed New Jersey Zinc plant often worked in extremely hot conditions and were afforded no protective gear.