Rockwell International Corp. manufactured universal joints for the automotive
industry on the 30.4-acre site in Allegan, Allegan County, Michigan. The
plant is in a residential neighborhood and on the banks of the Kalamazoo
River, which is used for recreational activities.
During 1910-60, the company discharged waste water containing sludge, heavy metals, process wastes, into the Kalamazoo River. During 1960-72, the waste water was discharged into two unlined ponds on the site. In 1972, the company built a plant to treat cutting fluid wastes, which contain emulsified oils, ferric chloride, sodium hydroxide, and a polymer flocculent. The treated wastes were discharged into one of two unlined ponds.
Ground water on the site is contaminated with lead, arsenic, cyanide, and 4-methyl-2-pentanone, according to tests conducted by EPA. Private wells downgradient of the plant are contaminated with heavy metals and cyanide, according to EPA. About 6,900 people depend on shallow wells within 3 miles of the site as a source of drinking water. EPA also detected heavy metals and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in the Kalamazoo River.
Demolition work on some of the buildings at the site began in August 2005 and is expected to last about one year. Other present site activities include waste sludge ponds to the north of the site buildings and work in the vegetative areas of the site.