Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Keystone Corridor Ground Water Contamination site is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The site consists of the Fall Creek well field and potential sources of the groundwater contamination. The groundwater has been affected by an approximately 4,500‑foot long by 1,500-foot wide plume (or underground mass) contaminated with chlorinated solvents located near the intersection of East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive and Keystone Avenue. The plume consists of chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The chemicals are primarily tetrachloroethene, or PCE; trichloroethene, or TCE; cis-1,2-dichloroethene, or cis-1,2-DCE, which is a breakdown product of PCE and TCE; and vinyl chloride. The sources of the contamination have not yet been identified.

The site poses a risk to the community due to actual and potential contamination in public water supply wells and in several monitoring wells. Investigations by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) could not determine any one specific source or sources of contamination due to the complex geology, the number of potential sources, and the comingling of the contamination. Over forty known users or handlers of solvents in the area have been identified as possible sources.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

In 1989, elevated levels of VOCs were found in soil near the former Tuchman Cleaners property, at 4401 North Keystone Avenue. From 1953 until 2008, Tuchman Cleaners, operating as a dry cleaner, used PCE, generated PCE waste and had documented PCE releases at the property. Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, has investigated soil and ground water contamination near the property. The site owner also conducted some cleanup work from 2003 to 2006; however, the Tuchman property remained contaminated. When the Tuchman Cleaners’ parent company declared bankruptcy in 2008, all cleanup efforts at the site stopped. From 2009 to 2011, IDEM performed additional investigations and inspections at the Tuchman site and surrounding properties which included Thomas Caterers of Distinction and Purtee Plating properties. Elevated levels of PCE and TCE were found in groundwater and soil. The City of Indianapolis oversaw the demolition of the Tuchman Cleaners building in November 2011 and IDEM asked for EPA’s help to finish the cleanup.

A site assessment was conducted in 2012 and cleanup at Tuchman Cleaners began. IDEM also conducted an investigation at the nearby former Vantage Point Cleaners property, which operated as a dry cleaner from 1986 to 1997 using and disposing of PCE waste. IDEM’s investigation showed elevated levels of PCE in the groundwater on the property. IDEM’s investigations have not determined the specific source or sources of contamination at the Keystone Corridor site due to the area’s complex geology, the number of potential sources, and the mixing of the contamination. Over 40 known users or handlers of solvents in the area have been identified as possible sources.

The local water company, Citizen’s Water, operates 10 active municipal drinking water wells in the Fall Creek Station well field. VOCs have historically been found in five of the wells. But in only one of the 10 drinking water wells, vinyl chloride was detected above the Safe Drinking Water Act, or SDWA, maximum contaminant level. However, that well has been removed from service. To clean up the chemicals released into the soil and underground water supplies at the Tuchman Cleaners property, in September 2012, the EPA began a time-critical removal action. The EPA calls the cleanup a time-critical removal action because the pollution posed an imminent threat to people. The cleanup included removing soil that posed a direct contact threat (danger from touching the soil); backfilling excavated areas; and transportation and disposal of hazardous material off-site. Besides removing the contaminated soil from the Tuchman Cleaners property, the EPA checked nearby residential properties for gases seeping into buildings through cracks and holes in their foundations. These gases can cause unsafe indoor air pollution through a process known as vapor intrusion. The EPA installed vapor intrusion mitigation systems at buildings where gasses had accumulated to unsafe levels. At the same time, an investigation at the Lumberman’s Wholesale Supply and nearby former Imperials Cleaners properties was also completed. Soil and ground water samples collected at each property were inconclusive as to the source(s) of contamination.

A Hazard Ranking System, or HRS, report, completed in May 2013 by EPA, identified impacts to the City of Indianapolis’ well field. The HRS report identified the following six properties as having historical releases of contamination: Tuchman Cleaners, Thomas Caterers of Distinction, Vantage Point Cleaners, Purtee Plating, Lumberman’s Wholesale Supply, and Imperial Cleaners. In December 2013, the Keystone Corridor site was placed on the National Priorities List, or NPL, mainly in response to the contaminated municipal drinking water well that was removed from service in 2011. In 2016 EPA conducted groundwater, soil and air sampling as part of the site’s cleanup investigation. The EPA used the sampling results to try to determine the source(s) of the contamination and identify appropriate long-term measures for ground water cleanup.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA issued a proposed plan (PDF) (8pp, 442K, About PDF) for an interim action to address vapor intrusion at the Keystone Corridor Groundwater Contamination Superfund site. The proposed plan calls for providing vapor intrusion mitigation where concentrations have the potential to impact human health at affected industrial/commercial and/or residential buildings.

Next, EPA reviews comments received during the public comment period that ran March 7th – April 5th, 2018. EPA will respond to the comments in a document called a Responsiveness Summary. This will be part of another document called the interim action record of decision that describes the final OU-3 cleanup plan. The Agency will announce the selected cleanup plan in a local newspaper, place a copy in the information repositories and post the plan on the web.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Reports on sampling events and other environmental data can be found in the following documents:

CH2M Hill - Vapor Intrusion Results(15pp, 244K, About PDF)

CH2M HILL Technical Memo - Expedited Vapor Intrusion Evaluation & Estimation of Potential Human Health Risks(107pp, 4.3MB, About PDF)

Additional sampling documents can be viewed online in the EPA's Administrative Records Collection for the  Keystone Corridor Groundwater Contamination site.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Since 2012, EPA has been working at a nearby former industrial dry-cleaning facility called Tuchman Cleaners and has an ongoing removal action there under the Superfund Emergency Response Program.  Approximately 29,850,000 gallons of water were pumped and treated from the contaminated aquifer from December 1995 to December 2002 at Tuchman Cleaners. EPA installed vapor mitigation systems at residential properties that were above screening levels.  Analytical results from tested properties showed that indoor air concentrations have been significantly reduced.

In 2017 the Agency conducted a time-critical removal action which included:  performing vapor mitigation at properties where relevant indoor air action levels were exceeded in accordance with current EPA guidance; performing post-installation proficiency sampling 30 days, six months, and one year after mitigation system installation; and taking any other response actions that could pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or the environment. EPA’s Action Memorandum (PDF) (36pp, 6.33MB, About PDF) describes the actions that were planned.

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