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Pines Ground Water Plume Site

Site Information
Map of boron & molybdenumView larger map
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Susan Pastor (pastor.susan@epa.gov)
312-353-1325 or 800-621-8431, ext. 31325

Remedial Project Manager
Erik Hardin
312-886-2402 or 800-621-8431, ext. 62402  

On-Scene Coordinator
Jacob Hassan (hassan.jacob@epa.gov)
312-886-6864 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66864

Media/Press Contact
Francisco Acraute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)

IDEM Project Manager
Doug Petroff
Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Indiana State Department of Health
Environmental Public Health Division Director  
Mike Mettler

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry
Senior Environmental Health Scientist
Mark D. Johnson


(where to view written records)

Michigan City Public Library
100 E. 4th St.
Michigan City, IN


The Pines Groundwater Site is located about 4 miles west of Michigan City and about 1 mile south of Lake Michigan in Porter County, Indiana.

EPA tested residential drinking water wells in the Town of Pines in May 2002, based on high levels of the metals boron and molybdenum found in drinking water wells by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The metals appeared to come from coal combustion by-products, or CCBs, composed primarily of fly ash that was disposed of in a nearby landfill called Yard 520. Other areas in the town were also identified as having CCB materials.  Ash, primarily bottom ash, was used as fill in residential yards as well as road surfaces and subsurfaces.  CCBs are the result of burning coal to make electricity.

In 2003 and 2004, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Brown, Inc., Ddalt Corp., and Bulk Transport, the companies determined to be responsible for the contamination, agreed  to provide municipal water to about 270 homes in and near the Town of Pines. About 70 more homes received bottled water pending the results of an investigation.  The results are summarized in a 2010 document called a remedial investigation report.

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Site Updates

July 2015

EPA oversaw NIPSCO and its contactors take soil samples in May at 44 residential properties.  They will use the information collected to evaluate the presence of high levels of arsenic from coal ash.  EPA also took some soil samples for analysis to confirm NIPSCO’s findings.  A second round of sampling will be done by the end of July at properties where permission was not obtained before the May sampling event.  Property owners who have since requested that their yards be sampled will also be included.  Other Pines properties may be sampled upon request. Request to be sampled.

When work plans and legal agreements with NIPSCO are completed, the company will start to clean up the coal ash on properties where high levels of arsenic were found.  The entire sampling and cleanup process is expected to take about a year.

Because the playground near the town hall is one of the areas with high arsenic levels, the equipment has been removed.

In February, EPA and NIPSCO discovered higher-than-normal levels of arsenic in soil samples taken at nine properties in 2014. This was most likely caused by fly ash used as landscaping fill in the 1970s. Since then, NIPSCO has been in communication with EPA, as well as each of the property owners, about the results and to discuss the next steps. The nine properties were selected by EPA and the local community group People in Need of Environmental Safety (PINES) as part of a continuing investigation to assess the presence of coal ash.

Soil was also tested at several dozen private and public properties in spring 2014 by a contractor for the companies responsible for investigating the coal ash contamination in the town. Permission to do so was obtained from the property owners. The testing, which was overseen by EPA, involved a general radiation scan to see if high levels are present and involved workers walking around yards with monitoring equipment. The results of the general radiation scans can be found in a summary table Summary Table (PDF) (5pp, 232 K).

In July 2014, EPA received a fourth draft of the feasibility study which includes several possible groundwater cleanup options. EPA cannot approve this study until the soil/arsenic contamination is dealt with. When the study is approved, EPA will propose a groundwater cleanup plan and present it to the public for review and comment. EPA expects to make a final decision in early 2016 after public comments are considered.

The PINES group currently has an EPA technical assistance plan to receive services such as technical advice and community outreach assistance valued at more than $50,000.


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