FEDERATED METALS CORP WHITING
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The Federated Metals Corporation site is a former metal smelting and refining facility, encompassing approximately 19 acres, in Hammond, Indiana. The site consists of two land parcels, a 9-acre former smelter and a 10-acre landfill near the shore of Lake George.
From 1937 through 1983, Federal Metals Corporation (FMC) operated in the border of Hammond and Whiting, Indiana as a smelting, refining, recovery and recycling facility for a variety of non-ferrous metals such as copper, lead, zinc. In 1985, FMC sold a 17-acre portion of the facility containing the main manufacturing building to HBR Partnership. Since then, a number of businesses have operated in various outbuildings at the facility. Since 2007, two related companies - Northern Indiana Metals and Whiting Metals - have owned the former FMC manufacturing building and have conducted lead smelting operations there.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
From 2001 to 2006, the smelter property was subject to a $3.35 million federal Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action/Indiana State RCRA closure project that is nearly complete. This work included demolition of an on-site baghouse; consolidation of debris, on-site hazardous wastes and slag dredged from Lake George into the landfill; and construction of a phyto-cap, a remedy technology which consists of growing selected plants and trees on top of a landfill.
In December 2005, ASARCO declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site before the RCRA corrective action was completed. A federal bankruptcy court ultimately allocated $1.2 million to a federal Trustee to complete the corrective action. As of early 2019 the Trustee has spent about half of the funds originally allocated by the bankruptcy court to complete the RCRA corrective action at the Federated Metals landfill, consisting primarily of landfill cap maintenance and groundwater monitoring. This RCRA corrective action work is still ongoing.
At the request of EPA’s RCRA program, in late 2016 and early 2017 EPA’s Superfund Division sampled soils at city-owned properties and right-of-ways in Hammond and Whiting to determine if heavy metals from the former Federated Metals Corporation (FMC) facility had contaminated the surrounding residential areas. The results showed some lead and arsenic contamination at unoccupied properties in the community.
In May 2017, EPA sampled the former facility’s landfill in order to determine whether contamination found in the community is from the former smelter. The analysis showed a link between materials found in the landfill and materials found in the soils to the north of the site. These combined endeavors led EPA to define a new soil sampling area that included occupied residential properties.
In October 2017, EPA along with the cities of Hammond and Whiting informed local residents of a sampling study taking place in residential properties to obtain a better understanding of the levels of arsenic and lead in the soil. The results showed that the soil in some of the properties sampled had lead above EPA’s Removal Management Levels or RMLs. RMLs help identify, areas, contaminants and conditions where a removal action may be appropriate.
What Is the Current Site Status?
EPA continues to work with the state of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), Lake County and the cities of Whiting and Hammond to protect human health and the environment in the area.
In May 2018 EPA held a public meeting at the Whiting Family YMCA to share with community members the activities taking place near the Federated Metals Corp. site (PDF) (1 pp, 20 MB). Later that same month, EPA began excavating soil at residences in the sampling area (PDF)(1 pg, 841 K) where surface lead levels were equal to or exceeded 1,200 parts lead per million parts soil and where sensitive populations resided. For this project, sensitive population was defined as pregnant women, and children under seven.
In 2018, EPA cleaned up 28 priority properties before suspending activities for the winter months. This year EPA resumed field work on the second week of April to clean up three remaining priority properties and complete all restoration activities that were suspended for the winter.