Congressional District # 06
AUTO ION CHEMICALS, INC.EPA ID# MID980794382
Last Updated: April, 2013
The 1.5 acre Auto Ion Chemicals, Inc., (Auto Ion) Superfund site is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From 1914 to 1956, the city of Kalamazoo operated a coal burning electrical generating station on the site. Between 1964 and 1973, Auto Ion treated chromium plating wastes at its facility. Liquid waste was stored in an open air lagoon and in five process storage tanks located in the basement of one of the buildings. About 122,000 gallons of liquid plating wastes and sludges were stored in other various locations on site. During the plant's operation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) documented numerous instances of discharges of contaminants to the soil, groundwater, and to the adjacent Kalamazoo River. MDNR ordered Auto Ion to cease operations in 1973.
The closest residence is located about 500 feet north of the site and about 2,300 residents live within one-half mile.
Site ResponsibilityThe Auto Ion site was addressed through potentially responsible party (PRP) actions under federal and state oversight.
Threats and ContaminantsGroundwater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethene (TCE) and vinyl chloride, and several heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nickel. Chromium, nickel, chloride, and cyanide were detected in surface water and sediment samples collected from the Kalamazoo River. Site soil was contaminated with chromium, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cyanide, and organic contaminants, known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Potential health risks existed from ingestion of contaminated groundwater or soils.
Cleanup ProgressUnder U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) oversight, the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) removed contaminants from the surface of the site in 1985. The abandoned building was torn down in 1986, and the debris was removed. The entire site was also fenced to prevent access to contaminated soil and groundwater. In 1993, forty-two PRPs, working under a Consent Decree, excavated approximately 24,000 tons of soil that was contaminated with chromium, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cyanide, and PAHs. The contaminated soil was taken to licensed landfills in Ohio and Michigan, and the site was backfilled with clean soil. The soil excavation eliminated the risk of people coming into direct contact with the contaminated soil and removed the major source of contamination to underlying groundwater.
The final remedy selected by U.S. EPA in 1994 called for long-term monitoring of groundwater and steps to be taken to ensure contaminants remain at levels that do not raise concerns about adverse impacts to the Kalamazoo River. Under a 1996 Consent Decree, the PRPs installed new monitoring wells in 1997 and began to routinely monitor groundwater. To date, levels of contaminants in on-site monitoring wells have not raised a concern about impacts to the river; however, due to residual levels of contamination, institutional controls ("deed restrictions") will be placed on the property to prevent future use of groundwater.
Five-Year Reviews (FYRs) of the effectiveness of the remedy were conducted in 2001, 2006, and 2011. The 2011 FYR report concluded that the remedy is effective in the short term because potential exposure risks have been addressed and the groundwater is being monitored. Additionally, the 2011 FYR report conducted a trend analysis of all of the site ground water sampling results. The trend analysis concluded that there are increasing trends in arsenic and chromium in some site wells. In September 2012, the PRPs conducted a stream study of the Kalamazoo River to determine if any of the contaminants from the site are impacting the river. Surface water and pore water data were collected from locations in the river identified in a preliminary survey. A second round of sampling is scheduled for summer 2013. When all sampling data is collected and analyzed, EPA will evaluate the results to determine if there is potential impact to the river and if further actions are necessary.
The 2011 FYR report further stated that the remedy will be effective in the long term once institutional controls are in place to restrict groundwater use. The PRPs are currently working with the state of Michigan to put these institutional controls in place.
ContactsRemedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
timothy drexler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
AliasesAUTO ION CHEMICALS, INC
AUTO ION CHEMICALS INC