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Congressional District # 2


EPA ID# IND980500292
Last Updated: December, 2014

Site Description

The 100-acre Himco Dump (Himco) Superfund site is located about two miles north of the St. Joseph River at County Road 10 and the Nappanee Street Extension in Cleveland Township, which is northeast of the city of Elkhart, Elkhart County, Indiana.  Land use in the area is predominantly agricultural, residential, and light industrial.  A wetlands area is located west of the site.

The Himco site contains an unlicensed, unlined 60-acre landfill called Himco Dump, which was privately operated by Himco Waste-Away Services.  Himco collected and received area commercial, industrial, and medical wastes and general refuse at the site from 1960 until 1976.  Both open-dumping and trench disposal occurred at the landfill.  An area south of the landfill and north of County Road 10, called the "construction debris area," contained many small piles of rubble, concrete, asphalt, and metal debris. The construction debris area extended across the landfill boundary and onto property owned by adjacent landowners.  

In 1971 the Indiana State Board of Health (ISBH) responded to residents' complaints and identified the site as an open dump.  In 1974, nearby residents reported to the ISBH that they were experiencing discoloration and foaming problems in their shallow water wells, which was thought to be caused by the off-site movement of landfill leachate.  Deeper replacement wells were soon installed; however, in 1990, water samples from the replacement wells showed very high levels of sodium in them.  The affected residences were connected to the Elkhart municipal water supply later that year.

Site Responsibility

The Himco Dump site is being addressed through a combination of state and federal actions and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions under state and federal oversight.  EPA entered into a consent decree in November 2007 with several PRPs under which the PRPs constructed the final remedy and are now operating and maintaining the remedy under EPA and state oversight.  

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater data collected from 1978 to 2000 showed that the Himco Dump site contributed to the degradation of groundwater quality in the area.  Data indicated a consistent pattern of low level volatile organic compound (VOC) and heavy metal contamination at the site. Chemicals of concern detected in the groundwater include benzene, 1,2-dichloropropane, trichloroethene, 1,1-dichloroethane, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, antimony, arsenic, chromium, iron, and manganese. Exposure to these chemicals due to the ingestion of contaminated groundwater could cause adverse health effects in people.

Soil samples collected from the construction debris area indicated the presence of elevated levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and aluminum, antimony, arsenic, copper, manganese, mercury, lead, and nickel, which may have been associated with the construction dumping activity.  VOCs detected in the soil include 1,1-dichloroethane, benzene, and ethylbenzene.  Exposure to these compounds due to dermal contact with contaminated soil could cause adverse health effects in people.

Past sampling surveys also revealed that various VOCs, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, chlorinated ethenes, and chlorinated ethanes, were detected in soil gas samples collected from the southern and eastern perimeters of the landfill.  Elevated concentrations of these chemicals were detected in soil gas samples taken from within the landfill area with a decreasing concentration trend moving away from the landfill perimeter.  The highest concentrations were measured in the southeast corner of the site.  Exposure to these chemicals, should landfill gas infiltrate into nearby residences, could cause adverse health effects in people. 

Cleanup Progress

Early actions

EPA began a Remedial Investigation and FeasibilityStudy (RI/FS) at the Himco site in 1989 and completed it in 1992.  EPA collected groundwater samples outside the landfill boundaries in 1990 and 1991 and detected low-levels of contaminants.  Also during the RI, a "hot spot" was identified at the southwest border of the landfill that showed high levels of VOC contamination.  In 1992, as part of an emergency removal action, EPA located and then the PRPs removed and disposed of seventy-one (71) 55-gallon chemical drums off site.  Although other hot spots had not been identified, it was not certain whether additional drum pockets existed.

EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) in September 1993 to select a final cleanup remedy for the site.  Because the landfill was unlined, the existing soil cover was poor, and contaminated groundwater had moved off site, the selected remedy consisted of the installation of a composite barrier cap with a vegetative layer over 58 acres of the site; installing an active vapor phase carbon system to treat off-gases from the landfill; providing for a contingent remedy to install a ground flare system if landfill gas characterization studies indicated that VOC emissions exceeded standards; cleaning up any affected wetland areas; monitoring groundwater quality over time; installing a site fence to restrict access; and implementing site-wide institutional controls (ICs).  The ICs were to include deed, groundwater-use, and land-use restrictions.  This combination of remedial action components was designed to restrict use of contaminated groundwater in the site vicinity and to prevent contact with the contents of the landfill.

EPA conducted supplemental investigations at the site in 1995-2000 and detected several contaminants of concern such as VOCs and heavy metals in a few residential wells located to the east and southeast of the site. This led EPA to issue a ROD Amendment for the Himco site in September 2004 that called for the final remedy to consist of the following components:

1. Enhance the existing soil cover to make it a minimum depth of 18 inches over the entire landfill;

2. Connect 39 designated homes located south and southeast of the site to the Elkhart municipal water supply;

3. Perform long-term groundwater monitoring;

4.  Prevent off-site migration of landfill gas using a passive collection system, if feasible, otherwise an active system would be required;

5.  Develop and implement a sentinel groundwater monitoring program for residences not connected to municipal water supply, with a contingency to connect them to the municipal water supply, if necessary;

6.  Support site re-use and redevelopment efforts, as appropriate; and

7.  Perform soil excavation in the construction debris area or provide a soil cover and make this area a part of the landfill.

EPA entered into a consent decree with several PRPs on November 28, 2007, to implement the selected cleanup actions at the Himco site.  By 2010, the potential health threat posed by drinking groundwater contaminated by landfill leachate was significantly reduced due to the abandonment of drinking water wells at the residences to the south and southeast of the site.  Groundwater quality data collected in 2010-2011 suggested that levels of contaminants have significantly been reduced in groundwater under the landfill as well as in the adjacent areas. Primary contaminants detected during this groundwater sampling survey were arsenic and bis-2-ethylhexyl phthalate. No VOCs were detected above federal Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).

Current conditions

The PRPs completed construction of all of the remedial actions in June 2012 and the Himco site is currently in the long-term response (operation and maintenance (O&M)) phase.  Periodic groundwater monitoring and maintenance of the landfill cover is being performed by the PRP, as required under the approved O&M Plan.  In summer 2014, elevated methane levels were detected during routine O&M activities.  Consequently, the PRP has been required by EPA to make necessary enhancements to the existing gas venting system (PVT).  This work is expected to be completed by the last week of December 2014.

Success Story

The cleanup at Himco Dump site was recognized in 2013 by EPA Region 5 for applying greener cleanup principles that significantly reduced the environmental footprint of the cleanup.  This was accomplished by 1) reusing some of the material removed at the site (e.g., donating wood chips to municipality for mulch); 2) designing the slope of landfill in a manner to accommodate greater potential reuse of the site; and 3) eliminating off-site runoff during precipitation.

Community Involvement

The Land Use Committee that was formed for discussing re-use possibilities for the Himco site had the following members or representatives:

  1. One local bank
  2. Four local residents
  3. Elkhart County
  4. Elkhart Environmental Center
  5. Teacher
  6. Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs)
  7. City of Elkhart
  8. Cleveland Township Neighborhood Association
  9. MACOG
  10. Elkhart Municipal Airport
  11. Bayer Polymers, LLC (PRP)
  12. Elkhart City Council
  13. Consultants retained by the city of Elkhart, the Wildlife Habitat Council, and EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory
  14. Resource Members: EPA's Remedial Project Manager; EPA's Community Involvement Coordinator, EPA's Site Re-use Coordinator, and IDEM's Project Coordinator

Since 2007, EPA has held several public meetings to provide updates to the community on progress of the site cleanup actions.  The latest public meeting was held in Elkhart in June 2008.  With the construction of the cleanup actions completed, EPA planned to meet with the stakeholders involved in developing the 2004 Reuse Planning Report in late 2012 or early 2013 to discuss the potential re-uses of the Himco site.

Property Reuse

In July 2002, EPA's Superfund Redevelopment Initiative program provided in-kind services to the city of Elkhart to assist in re-use planning for the Himco site.  A Land Use Committee (for a list of members, see "Community Involvement" section, below) was set up to help identify redevelopment possibilities and challenges and to establish site re-use guidelines.  In November 2004, after several meetings to discuss site re-use, the committee released a project report that summarized the re-use planning process, presented the Himco site re-use strategy, and highlighted the next steps.

The conceptual re-use framework for the Himco site was developed based on the Land Use Committee's re-use guidelines, as well as land use and market conditions in the city of Elkhart.  The report provided an overview of the community planning process and highlighted key re-use considerations that could potentially be implemented at the Himco site to complement the 2004 cleanup actions.  The following five land re-use scenarios were determined to be suitable for the Himco site:

  1. Active Recreation Areas  [Sports fields, biking and walking paths and/or crosscountry course]
  2. Passive Recreation and Leisure Areas  [Picnic grounds and Camp Park, fishing pond, bird sanctuary with wildlife viewing stations, and Quarry Lake boat launch]
  3. Ecological Zones  [Prairie and/or open fields; plus sassafras, sumac, eastern red cedar trees, open wooded fields, pocket woodlands,  Quarry Lake, wetlands]
  4. Environmental Education areas  [Field study garden, field testing and learning stations with indoor classrooms]
  5. Recreational Vehicle Park

For more information review the committee's report entitled "Planning for the Future: A Reuse Planning Report for the Himco Dump Superfund Site" (September 2004), which is found in the local information repository in Elkhart.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
Rosauro Del Rosario (delrosario.rosauro@epa.gov)
(312) 886-6195

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
teresa jones
(312) 886-0725

Site Profile Information

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


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