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Fact Sheet

April 2010

Unilateral Administrative Order Issued for Cleanup of Former Chamberlain Manufacturing Site, Waterloo, Iowa


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (order) to the former owner of the Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation facility in Waterloo, Iowa. The Order requires the former site owner to complete an environmental investigation and cleanup at the facility in Waterloo.

The order requires Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation (Chamberlain) to engage in a series of short-term and long-term actions to address environmental contamination on and around the site. The short-term interim actions include installation of vapor mitigation systems (with permission of homeowners) in nearby residences that are situated over a plume of contaminated ground water.

The long-term actions include Chamberlain collecting and analyzing information on the contamination at and around the facility to propose a final clean up remedy for the site. The remedy will be subject to both public comment and EPA approval prior to the required implementation of the cleanup work by Chamberlain. EPA and/or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will monitor all phases of the work prescribed by the order.

The order specifically requires Chamberlain to take steps to mitigate the potential for intrusion of volatile organic compound (VOC) vapors into nearby residences that are situated over a plume of contaminated ground water. Long-term exposure to such vapors can pose increased risk of adverse health effects. EPA estimates that an initial phase of installing vapor mitigation systems in residences, with the consent of homeowners, could be completed within one year.

The order also requires Chamberlain to work with the City of Waterloo to restrict access to areas of the property where hazardous material releases are known to have occurred.


The former Chamberlain facility is located at 550 Esther Street in Waterloo. The facility manufactured metal washer wringers, projectile metal parts, aluminum awnings and refrigerator shelves, among other items, at the 22.8-acre site. The former owner ceased operations at the facility in the 1990s.

In 2003, the City of Waterloo assessed the facility under EPA's Brownfields program. The city received Brownfields Cleanup grant funding in 2008, for the sampling and removal of asbestos from a group of dilapidated buildings prior to their demolition. In 2005, the City of Waterloo purchased the site from Atlas Warehouse.

The City of Waterloo and Chamberlain have conducted sampling of the ground water beneath the facility and its surrounding neighborhood. Those sampling results indicate that trichloroethene (TCE), chloroform, tetrachloroethene (PCE), 1,1,2-trichloroethane, and vinyl chloride were found to exceed health risk-based screening levels for drinking water.  These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were used in manufacturing processes at the facility and are suspected to have entered ground water through spills.

EPA assessed the potential for VOCs to move from ground water into indoor air through soils and concrete or block foundations, and concluded that there is a potential for movement of VOCs into indoor air spaces.

EPA collected two rounds of vapor samples (2008 and 2009) from below the basement floors in 10 residences situated west and southwest of the facility. Two rounds of samples were collected to account for seasonal fluctuations in outdoor temperature and the depth of the water table.

Based on results from the 2008 and 2009 vapor sampling, and the known behavior of VOC vapors at similar sites, EPA concluded that there is a potential for subslab VOC vapors to migrate into the living space of homes adjacent to the facility. Long-term exposure to these VOC contaminants may pose an increased risk of adverse health effects.


The public is encouraged to review EPA's investigation reports and other historic information regarding the facility. This information is available at the following locations during normal business hours:

City of Waterloo
Community Planning & Development
715 Mulberry Street
Waterloo, Iowa 50703
(319) 291-4366

EPA Region 7 Records Center
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
(913) 551-7166


EPA is working to schedule a public availability session to respond to questions and provide the community with additional information about the Order.  A time, date and place for that event will be announced soon. If you have questions about the site or this fact sheet, please contact:

Beckie Himes
Community Involvement Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, KS  66101
(913) 551-7253
(800) 223-0425

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