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Congressional District # 08


EPA ID# INN000508142
Last Updated: April, 2015

Site Description

The Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination (Jacobsville) Superfund site is located in Evansville, Indiana. Over time, soil had become contaminated with lead and arsenic due to emissions from former facilities in the area. Operations of some of these companies date back as far as the 1880s, but all had ceased operating by the 1950s.

The site is divided into two phases, or "operable units" (OUs), and encompasses a larger area than just the Jacobsville neighborhood in Evansville. The first operable unit (OU1) encompasses about 141 acres, includes approximately 500 residential properties, and is roughly bounded by the Lloyd Expressway to the south, Mary Street to the west, Iowa Street to the north, and Elliot Street to the east. OU1 is also the location of the former facilities that are thought to be the sources of the lead and arsenic emissions. OU2 extends outward from OU1 and covers approximately 4.5 square miles and several thousand residential properties.

EPA placed the Jacobsville site on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) on July 22, 2004.

Site Responsibility

The Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Lead levels above the Jacobsville site cleanup level of 400 parts per million (ppm) were found in residential soils in both OU1 and OU2 of the site. Lead is harmful because it can cause high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Exposure to lead is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as lead can cause premature birth, low birth weight, or miscarriage. Children are especially at risk because they are more likely than adults to swallow dirt that contains lead, and they are more sensitive to the effects of lead. Lead exposure in children has been shown to decrease IQ scores, slow growth, and cause hearing problems.

Arsenic levels above the site cleanup level of 30 ppm have been found in soils at properties in both OU1 and OU2 at the Jacobsville site, although at a much lower frequency than lead exceedences. Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of "pins and needles" in hands and feet. Ingesting or breathing low levels of arsenic for a long time can cause a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small corns or warts on the palms, soles, and torso. Skin contact with arsenic may cause redness and swelling. Several studies have shown that exposure to high levels of arsenic can increase the risk of several types of cancer.

Cleanup Progress

Initial Investigations and Selection of Remedy

After listing the Jacobsville site on the NPL, EPA conducted six rounds of soil sampling between 2004 and 2006 to determine how far the lead and arsenic contamination extended. EPA completed a Remedial Investigation report for the site in September 2006 and a Feasibility Study report for OU1 in January 2007. A bioavailability study, which is a study of how much of the lead at the site is likely to be absorbed by humans, was completed in January 2008. The reports and studies explained the contamination and the risks posed by arsenic and lead, as well as possible ways to clean up the site.

Early in 2007, EPA presented its proposed cleanup plan for OU1 to the public for comment. The comment period, during which residents, local governments, and other stakeholders had the opportunity to comment on EPA's preferred plan, ended on February 28, 2007. After completing the bioavailability study, discussed above, EPA signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for OU1 on February 14, 2008. The selected remedy consisted of excavating the contaminated soils at residential properties, backfilling excavations with clean soil, and restoring the properties to original conditions.

EPA completed a Feasibility Study report for OU2 in June 2008. The primary difference between OU1 and OU2 is the size of the areas. OU1 is about 7 square blocks (about 0.25 square mile) in area, and OU2 is 4.5 square miles in area.

EPA presented its Proposed Plan to the public for cleaning up OU2 in June 2009, and the public comment period was from June 11, 2009, through July 10, 2009. EPA published its final decision on the OU2 remedy in a ROD signed on September 22, 2009. The cleanup selected for OU2 is essentially the same as the one selected for OU1 - excavation of contaminated soil in residential yards, backfilling with clean fill, and restoration of the properties to as close to original condition as possible.

Cleanup Actions

To address a number of highly-contaminated properties prior to selection of the final cleanup plan, EPA undertook an emergency removal action at the Jacobsville site from September 2007 through April 2008. During this action, 83 residential properties with lead levels in the soil above 1,200 ppm were cleaned up. Excavated soil was disposed of off site.

After selecting the OU1 final cleanup plan, EPA began the remedial action at the Jacobsville site by cleaning up 263 properties beginning in April 2010 and an additional 20 properties in 2011. This initial phase of the remedial action was funded with over $5 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, which allowed the cleanup to be completed on an expedited schedule.

EPA will clean up OU2 in phases over an estimated five to seven year time frame due to the very large scope of the project. In April 2012, EPA began the first phase of the OU2 cleanup. By early November 2012, contaminated soil from approximately 469 residential properties had been excavated and disposed of off site. In 2013 and 2014, an additional 733 properties were cleaned up.

The combined cleanups from 2007 to date have resulted in lead- and/or arsenic-contaminated soil being removed from over 1,500 residential properties in Evansville. EPA resumed cleanup work at the Jacobsville site in spring 2015.

Success Story

Although EPA held a ceremony in October 2010 to celebrate the completion of the cleanup of the first 263 homes in OU1, sampling and cleanup of residential yards has continued ever since. To date, EPA has collected more than 25,000 soil samples from over 3,000 properties. By the end of 2014, over 1,500 residential properties had been cleaned up.

Each phase of the cleanup has involved employment of about 30 people by EPA and its contractors, including many local hires. In anticipation of the 2010 construction season, the EPA subcontractor held a 40-hour training in Evansville. Over 350 applications for the training class were received from residents in Evansville and nearby areas. The EPA subcontractor was able to hire 43 workers who had graduated from the program. Of these, 19 worked on the Jacobsville cleanup project, and the others worked at cleanup sites across the nation, including at the Gulf Oil Spill site. To further bolster the ability of local residents to qualify for employment opportunities, EPA held a job training program, called the Superfund Job Training Initiative , in the community in 2012. Of the twenty graduates who awarded the training certificate, twelve were hired to work on the cleanup during 2012. A number of these original graduates continued to work on the site in 2013 and 2014.

Ratings from residents on evaluation forms have remained very high over the course of the five years of cleanup. During the first year, the average rating was 9.4 out of 10. Comments by residents on the evaluation forms included: "We appreciate the precise manner they used when working on our property"; "I can't say enough good things about the entire crew"; "very good and hard workers"; "polite and professional"; "The crew were amazing in every way"; "Thanks for a great job and a great crew"; and "They were the most efficient group of contractors I've ever met." During the 2012 cleanup, ratings from residents averaged 9.1 out of 10, and during 2013 and 2014, the average rating was 9.3 out of 10.

Community Involvement

EPA has held many public meetings and information sessions since the site was listed on the NPL and has also attended numerous meetings with local organizations. Public meetings and availability sessions were held in February 2010, September 2010, March 2012, June 2013, and July 2014 to inform residents about the upcoming cleanups, help them understand what it would mean to them, and allow property owners whose yards had been sampled to ask questions.

During the first year of cleanup, EPA worked with students at the University of Southern Indiana on class projects that involved understanding the community aspects of the cleanup and helping to inform residents about the work. To celebrate the completion of the cleanup of 263 homes in OU1, in October 2010 EPA held a ceremony on a vacant lot in the Jacobsville neighborhood. EPA has participated in local Earth Day events at the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, as well as at a local hospital, nearly every year since the cleanup project began. Presentations have been given at the Jacobsville Association Community Corporation (JACC) meetings as well as at annual meetings of United Neighborhoods of Evansville (UNOE). EPA has met with several urban gardening groups in Evansville, visited community gardens, planned and completed comprehensive sampling of school properties with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC), and continues to coordinate with the City of Evansville Brownsfield Department and with Habitat for Humanity on redevelopment sites.

In spring 2012, EPA held a job training program in Evansville to give local residents an opportunity to acquire certifications needed to apply for hazardous waste cleanup jobs. Approximately 20 residents completed the training program, and 12 were hired to work on the cleanup underway in OU2. A number of the local residents continued to work on the cleanup in 2013 and 2014. Having local residents as part of the cleanup crew has had a positive impact on the project and allowed EPA to develop ties with different parts of the community.

A Community Involvement Plan and other site documents are available to the public at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Central Branch, 200 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Congressional Interest

Prior to the site being listed in 2004, local U.S. Congressman and both U.S. Senators that represented the state of Indiana showed interest in the project. 

Property Reuse

The cleanup of two vacant lots in the Jacobsville neighborhood allowed a local non-profit organization, ECHO Housing Corporation, to receive grant money to construct a 26-unit residential building for homeless and disabled veterans in the state of Indiana on the properties. ECHO Housing Corporation, whose mission is to provide affordable housing to the homeless, broke ground on the development in July 2010. After construction was completed in mid-2011, the first residents moved in during November 2011. In alignment with the organization's "Housing, Help and Hope" objectives, the development includes a community room for meetings and educational seminars and provides wireless access to assist residents with employment applications and job training.

The city of Evansville also has a number of projects on-going to re-use cleaned up property. EPA is working with Evansville's Department of Metro Development and Habitat for Humanity to coordinate cleanups of properties that will be reused.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
mary tierney (tierney.mary@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4785

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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