Congressional District # 01
MIDCO IEPA ID# IND980615421
Last Updated: March, 2012
The 7-acre Midco I Superfund site is located at 7400 West 15th Avenue in Gary, Lake County, Indiana. The site is currently fenced and contains a groundwater treatment plant plus a contaminant source area and areas of contaminated sediment. The Midco I site was used to store, recycle, and dispose of industrial wastes from 1973 to 1979. In December 1976, a large fire destroyed an estimated 14,000 55-gallon drums of chemical wastes, resulting in spillage. Operations were resumed in October 1977. When the site was abandoned in 1979, thousands of full drums of waste were left behind in addition to the fire-damaged drums.
There are a number of small businesses located within 1,000 feet of the Midco I site. A residential neighborhood of Hammond, Indiana, is located within 1,500 feet and a residential neighborhood of Gary is located 3,000 feet from the site. Several private drinking water wells were found to have been drawing water from the same aquifer beneath the site and were located in the direction of off-site groundwater flow.
Site ResponsibilityThe Midco I site is being addressed by a combination of federal and state actions and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions under federal and state oversight.
Threats and ContaminantsFollowing removal of the surficial wastes in 1982, the subsurface soils and groundwater were still highly contaminated. Contaminants affecting the groundwater include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene, methylene chloride, and toluene; other organic compounds such as phenol and isophorone; metals such as chromium, lead, and nickel; and cyanide. Groundwater sampling performed in 2009 and 2010 also identified significant groundwater contamination by 1,4-dioxane. The groundwater is so highly contaminated with salts that it cannot be discharged to surface water, even after treatment.
In addition to the same contaminants present in the groundwater, sediments and soils are also contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and the pesticide chlordane. VOCs, chromium, lead, cadmium, and cyanide were detected in surface waters northeast of the site. Contaminants in the soil are leaching into the groundwater. If no action had been taken, direct contact with or accidental ingestion of contaminated groundwater, surface water, sediments, or soil would have been a threat to human health. Contaminated groundwater would have also migrated off-site and may have affected down-gradient drinking water wells.
Until the site is cleaned up, these risks are being controlled by a site fence, on-site staff, and a temporary soil cover. Until the final remedy is in place, contaminated sediments may adversely affect wildlife and plants in our around the wetlands; however, these sediments are not migrating off-site and the wetlands are of low value. Because future development of the site or groundwater may pose human health risks, usage of the site is restricted through deed notices.
Cleanup ProgressIn June 1981, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) enclosed the site with a fence. On-site wastes and the top foot of highly contaminated soil were removed and disposed of in 1982. This action included removal of approximately 14,000 burned and crushed drums, 7,400 full drums, 10,000 gallons of liquid, and 8,000 gallons of sulfide-contaminated sludge from underground tanks. Another 840 drums were removed by a private party. In 1985, a group of private parties entered into an agreement with U.S. EPA to conduct sampling to locate the extent of soil and groundwater contamination and to evaluate cleanup methods. The sampling and evaluation was conducted between 1985 and 1989.
- In a 1989 decision document as amended in 1992, U.S. EPA decided that the cleanup should include:
- Cleanup of the groundwater by a pump-and-treat system
- Treatment and deep well injection of the treated groundwater into a saline aquifer
- Treatment of an estimated 7,800 cubic yards of highly contaminated soil and sediments by soil vapor extraction (SVE) and soil solidification/stabilization
- Construction of a cap over the site
In 1992, private parties entered into an agreement with U.S. EPA to implement the cleanup and formed the Midco Remedial Corporation (MRC). Construction began in 1993 with the consolidation of contaminated sediments onto the site and construction of the deep well. Between 1994 and 1996, the MRC constructed and tested the pump-and-treat system and continuous operation was initiated in 1997. In 1999, U.S. EPA determined that the pump-and-treat system was undersized. The MRC designed and constructed an expanded system, which began operating in 2002. The pump-and-treat system was temporarily shut down in 2010.
Between 1993 and 1997, U.S. EPA and the MRC cooperated in conducting treatability studies for soil treatment by solidification/stabilization. The treatability studies demonstrated that it would be difficult for solidification/stabilization to treat all of the other contaminants of concern. For that reason, in 2001 U.S. EPA allowed the MRC to test the injection of chemicals to treat the subsurface soils, but the test results were not promising. In September 2004, U.S. EPA formally approved changes to the soil treatment requirements, including:
- Treating soils below the water table by construction of a groundwater barrier wall around the source area
- Lowering the water table within the source area by 12 feet
- Conducting SVE throughout the source area
- Eliminating the requirement for treatment of organic compounds other than VOCs in the soils
- Reducing soil treatment by solidification/stabilization to 3,560 cubic yards of soil highly contaminated by metals and cyanide
- Adding excavation and off-site disposal as an option for addressing highly contaminated soils
The MRC constructed the groundwater barrier wall in late 2003. In 2004 and 2005, the MRC pumped out water within the barrier wall to lower the water table. This pumping continued as necessary during the soil treatment. The MRC constructed the SVE system in 2005 and continuous operation began in 2006. In August 2010, it was estimated that the SVE system had removed 50,000 pounds of VOCs. In July 2010, the MRC tested Midco soil gas, which is being used as an indicator for the soil contamination, and found that the SVE system still had achieved the required 97% reduction in VOC concentrations. Operation of SVE is continuing to further reduce soil and groundwater contamination. Outside the barrier wall, VOCs are near the groundwater cleanup actions levels for VOCs, but metal, cyanide, and sulfide contamination is significant.
Following completion of SVE, the highly contaminated soil will be excavated (or treated by solidification/stabilization) and the site cover will be installed. U.S. EPA completed five-year reviews in 1999, 2004 and 2009. In the 2009 five-year review, U.S. EPA determined that additional work was needed on institutional controls and that adjustments to groundwater and soil cleanup action levels may be needed before site closure. In 2009 - 2010 sampling, 1,4-dioxane was detected in groundwater for the first time because of improved detection limits (up to 140 ug/l outside of the groundwater barrier wall). In September 2010 U.S. EPA approved a temporary shut-down of the groundwater treatment system so that groundwater monitoring could be performed under non-pumping conditions.
The MRC submitted a closure plan in October 2011, which includes a number of proposed revisions to the cleanup, and this plan is now under review.
U.S. EPA's removal action was very successful in removing immediate chemical hazards to avoid significant health risks at the site.
Institutional controls such as deed notices are being used to restrict property re-use. In September 2007, the city of Gary passed an ordinance prohibiting the on-site installation of new wells for potable water usage as well as the use of the unconsolidated aquifer as a source of potable water. Gary has included the Midco I property within a redevelopement zone for the Gary-Chicago Airport.
ContactsRemedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
allison nowotarski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
AliasesMIDCO I SITE
MIDWEST SOLVENTS REC