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Record of Decision System (RODS)

CONRAIL RAIL YARD (ELKHART)

Abstract

Site Name:  CONRAIL RAIL YARD (ELKHART)
Address:  SR 33 
City & State:  ELKHART  IN  46514
County:  ELKHART
 
EPA ID:  IND000715490
EPA Region:  05
 
NPL Status:  Currently on the Final NPL
 
ROD Type:  Record of Decision
ROD ID:  EPA/ROD/R05-94/271
ROD Date:  09/09/1994
Operable Unit(s):  02
 
Media:  groundwater, soil
 
Contaminant:  Carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene
 
Abstract:  Please note that the text in this document summarizes the Record of Decision for the purposes of facilitating searching and retrieving key text on the ROD. It is not the officially approved abstract drafted by the EPA Regional offices. Once EPA Headquarters receives the official abstract, this text will be replaced.

The Conrail Railyard site is located adjacent to and within the southwestern city limits of Elkhart, Indiana. The site includes the 675 acre railyard facility which is bounded to the north by US33, on the east by State Route 19, to the south by Mishawaka Road, and to the west by State Route 219, and certain areas of contamination that extend in two directions, northeast and northwest from the Conrail Railyard. The Elkhart Railyard is an electronically controlled hump yard which serves as a classification distribution yard for freight cars. It contains 72 classification tracks where cars are separated and switched to a specific track corresponding to a particular destination. Car repair, engine cleaning, and diesel refueling facilities are also located at the yard.

The study area, which includes the railyard, encompasses roughly 2,500 acres of flat terrain. There are several light industrial properties located within the study area to the north and northwest of the railyard, as well as the numerous light industries surrounding the study area to the east and south. Within the above referenced study area, there are also several residential areas comprised mainly of single-family homes. Approximately 3,500 people live within the study area. Of this total, about 3,000 of the people use private residential wells for their water supply, and another 300 get their water supply from a private utility, whose well is also located in the study area.

The major surface water bodies in the vicinity of the study area are the St. Joseph River and Baugo Bay. The St. Joseph River flows westward and is located a little over a mile north of the Conrail site. Baugo Bay flows north into the St. Joseph River, and is located immediately to the west of the study area. Floodplains and wetland areas exist along both the St. Joseph River and Baugo Bay.

The railyard began operations in 1956 as part of the New York Central Railroad and continued operations as a subsidiary of the Penn Central Transportation Company until 1976. From 1961 to 1968, numerous citizen complaints regarding oil discharges from the railyard to the St. Joseph River were filed with state and local authorities. Based on interviews with ex-employees of the railyard, and other information, between 1966 and 1969 a tank car containing carbon tetrachloride collided with another car during humping operations at the railyard causing the release of about 16,000 gallons of carbon tetrachloride.

In 1976, operations of the railyard were transferred. From 1976 to the present, spills and releases of oil, diesel fuel, hydrochloric acid, caustic soda, and various petroleum-related substances have occurred there. Reports also indicate that a track-cleaning substance (chemical composition unknown) and engine degreasers were used and disposed of at the railyard.

In June 1986, a nearby resident reported that his residential well contained elevated levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). On July 2, 1986, a water sample was collected and analyzed by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Technical Assistance Team (TAT). Sample analysis indicated the presence of trichloroethylene (TCE) and carbon tetrachloride (CC14). Based on this finding, EPA/TAT initiated a groundwater sampling program to the northwest and northeast of the railyard. A total of 63 groundwater samples showed detectable levels of TCE, CC14, or both.

Bottled water has been provided to residents whose wells were affected by the contamination. A portion of the residents in one area were later connected to a water-main extension from the City of Elkhart. Many of the residents, however, had carbon filter units installed to ensure a safe drinking water supply.

EPA/TAT also conducted an inspection of the Conrail site in July and August 1986. Seven water/liquid samples and 21 soil samples were collected at the Conrail site during this same period. The results of the analyses revealed TCE and CC14 concentrations. Based on these results, the downgradient location of TCE and CC14 contaminated private wells from the railyard, and the history of poor waste handling practices at the railyard, the Conrail site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in August 1990.
 
Remedy:  The major components of the selected remedy include: institutional actions such as groundwater and air monitoring, well abandonment, access restrictions, and deed restrictions, to limit the potential for human exposure to contaminated media; additional source investigations and remediation; monitoring and, if necessary, vapor abatement actions in building floors and basements of areas north of the railyard; soil vapor extraction of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) contamination in the Thrichloroethylene (TCE) source area, and air sparing in the saturated zone in the carbon tetrachloride (CC14) source area, in conjunction with vapor extraction of the overlying unsaturated zone, and treatment of these vapors; extension of the City of Elkhart municipal water supply system to all residences in the area bounded by the Conrail facility to the south, the St. Joseph River to the north, Baugo Bay to the west, and Nappanee Street to the east; groundwater extraction and treatment to achieve groundwater standards throughout the plumes which will be achieved by emphasizing remediation of "hot spots" - collected groundwater will be treated using air stripping and discharged to the St. Joseph River; exhaust from the air stripper(s) will be treated by carbon adsorption prior to emission; spent carbon will be disposed of properly.
 
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