KEYSTONE CORRIDOR GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION
On this page:
- What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
- What Is the Current Site Status?
- Sampling and Monitoring
- Emergency Response and Removal
- Enforcement Information
On related pages:
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. , including tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-1,2-DCE) which is a breakdown product of PCE and TCE; and vinyl chloride.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
The site is being addressed through federal and state actions. Several site cleanup milestones have already been achieved.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, 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. 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 (PDF) (76pp, 6.1MB K, About PDF) 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.
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.
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.
In March 2018 EPA issued a proposed plan (PDF) (8 pp, 442 K, About PDF)(for an interim action to address vapor intrusion at the Keystone Corridor Groundwater Contamination Superfund site. The proposed plan called for providing vapor intrusion mitigation where concentrations have the potential to impact human health at affected industrial/commercial and/or residential buildings. After reviewing comments received during a 30-day comment period, EPA issued in September 2018 its Record of Decision (ROD) Interim Remedial Action (PDF) (200 pp, 62.59 MB) documenting the interim cleanup plan to address vapor intrusion throughout the site – referred to ask Operable Unit 3, or OU3 of the Keystone Corridor site.
The selected remedy for OU3 includes the following major components:
- Installation of vapor intrusion mitigation systems to prevent site-related contaminants from moving – in the form of gases – from below ground into indoor air at levels that represent a possible threat to human health;
- Operation and maintenance of active vapor intrusion mitigation systems until vapor mitigation is no longer needed; and
- Institutional controls (ICs) within the vapor intrusion area of concern to notify appropriate parties of the presence of potentially hazardous concentrations of subsurface vapors, to require the incorporation of vapor mitigation measures during the construction of new buildings, and to ensure that building owners who did not grant access for testing or refused the installation of a mitigation system are aware of the potential for vapor intrusion, steps they can take to reduce potential risks to building occupants, and who they should contact to grant access to their property.
What Is the Current Site Status?
Groundwater Contamination – OU1
EPA is in the process of preparing a Record of Decision for its cleanup plan to address the primary source area known as Operable Unit 1 (OU1) at the Keystone Corridor Ground Water Contamination Superfund site. In March 2020, EPA, working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), issued the proposed cleanup plan for OU1, which serves as the main source of groundwater contamination resulting in soil vapor contamination at the site. EPA conducted a public comment period for its proposed cleanup plan June 1-30, 2020.
High concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present underneath the former Tuchman Cleaners property in OU1. EPA’s plan is to apply energy (heat or steam) underground to mobilize, vaporize, capture, and treat the contaminants.
- EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Underground Water (PDF) (8 pp, 401.52K, About PDF)
- A Citizen’s Guide to In Situ Thermal Treatment (PDF) (2 pp, 587.14 K, About PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions about EPA's Proposed Cleanup of the Keystone Corridor Ground Water Contamination Superfund Site, Operable Unit 1 (PDF) (4 pp, 126 K, About PDF)
Vapor intrusion – OU3
EPA’s remedial design to implement the selected interim remedy for the properties that are located within the potential vapor intrusion area of concern is complete.
In February 2020, EPA began the remedial action which consists of construction of vapor intrusion mitigation systems at the eight known industrial and commercial buildings and up to an estimated 88 additional buildings (44 residential and 44 industrial/commercial) consistent with the remedial design. EPA’s schedule for the remedial action is August 2019 through December 2021.
In June 2020 EPA is installing and testing vapor mitigation systems in 3 commercial and residential properties. We are also testing systems that we installed in February and March in 18 commercial and residential units
Sampling and Monitoring
Reports on sampling events and other environmental data can be found in the following documents:
Additional sampling documents can be viewed online in the EPA's Administrative Records Collection for the Keystone Corridor Groundwater Contamination site.
Emergency Response and Removal
From September 2012 to December 2014, EPA conducted a time-critical removal action at the former industrial dry-cleaning facility called Tuchman Cleaners under the Superfund Emergency Response Program. EPA excavated over 2,550 tons of contaminated soil and two underground storage tanks from the property. EPA also sampled soil vapor in the residential neighborhood to the east and conducted testing at more than 40 residential properties to determine if vapor intrusion was occurring.
As a result, during the removal action EPA installed vapor mitigation systems at 22 residential properties where vapor intrusion was found to be occurring. EPA recognized that VOCs would continue to threaten the Fall Creek Station municipal well field and, therefore, a long-term response action was needed under the Superfund Remedial Program.
- Tuchman Cleaners Removal Action Administrative Record
- Tuchman Cleaners Removal Action Special Collection Documents
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.
As a result of the above investigations, IDEM's state cleanup program held numerous discussions with potentially responsible parties (PRPs), including Tuchman Cleaners, Vantage Point Cleaners, Thomas Caterers, and Purtee Plating, regarding soils and groundwater contaminated with TCE and PCE. After the Tuchman Cleaners’ parent company declared bankruptcy in 2008 and the Fall Creek municipal drinking water well was found to be impacted, IDEM requested EPA's assistance with a removal action at Tuchman Cleaners.
Under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund), the Superfund enforcement program gets sites cleaned up by finding the companies or people responsible for contamination at a site and negotiating with or ordering them to do the cleanup themselves, or to pay for the cleanup done by another party (i.e., EPA, state, or other responsible parties).
In July 2014, EPA sent information requests, pursuant to Section 104(e) of CERCLA, to 23 current or past owners or operators at the properties connected to the contaminated groundwater plume. EPA’s policy does not consider owners or operators of property above a groundwater plume to be PRPs, absent evidence that the property owners or operators contributed to the site contamination. Seven potential source properties were initially identified, and EPA obtained access to sample six of them: the former Vantage Cleaners, the former Tuchman Cleaners, Thomas Catering, Purtee Plating, Lumberman’s Wholesalers, and S&K Laundry, which is located approximately 0.75 miles south of Tuchman Cleaners. The highest concentrations of PCE and TCE are present in the shallow aquifer north of Fall Creek near the Tuchman Cleaners property.
EPA’s proposed remedy for OU1 seeks to address the primary source area contributing to soil vapors and groundwater contamination, with full remediation of the contaminated groundwater plume expected to be addressed later, in a final ROD for OU2. Should additional PRPs be identified, General Notice Letters and/or 104(e) Information Requests will be issued as appropriate.