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Congressional District # 2


EPA ID# IND980999635
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The 5-acre Galen Myers Dump/Drum Salvage ("Galen Myers") Superfund site is located in Osceola, St. Joseph County, Indiana. The former property owner had conducted chemical drum reclamation activities at the site from about 1970 to 1983. During the process, the 55-gallon steel chemical drums obtained from local industries were stored on-site and were then recycled by removing the tops and dumping the contents onto the ground.  The empty drums were then sold as trash containers.

The St. Joseph County Health Department first investigated the Galen Myers site in 1981 in response to nearby residents’ complaints. The county then requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assess the site. During site inspections conducted in 1984, EPA found many leaking and deteriorating drums.

In 1986, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) found site soil and nearby private wells to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  At the time, approximately 17,000 people obtained drinking water from private wells located within three miles of the site.  The St. Joseph River is located approximately one mile from the site.

Site Responsibility

The Galen Myers site is being addressed through state and federal actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Soil and groundwater at the Galen Myers site are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) derived from the drums brought to the site for recycling.  Trichloroethylene (TCE), a chlorinated solvent, is a primary chemical of concern. Human exposure to TCE at the site could occur through dermal (skin) contact with contaminated soil, by drinking contaminated groundwater, or by contact with or ingestion (eating) of residual volumes of solvents in the stored drums. TCE is a human carcinogen (can cause cancer) and can cause non-carcinogenic health effects as well.

EPA and IDEM have removed stored drums and contaminated soils from the site, thereby preventing exposure through the dermal contact route.  An alternate water supply has been made available to area residents; however, residents who have declined the government-funded public water connections are potentially at risk of consuming or inhaling VOCs from contaminated water.

The St. Joseph County Health Department issued a groundwater protection ordinance that became effective in January 1999.  The ordinance is designed to prevent people from installing new drinking water wells without prior county approval in areas where VOC-contaminated groundwater is found.

Cleanup Progress

EPA conducted a removal action at the Galen Myers site in 1985 and disposed of 1,800 pounds of flammable solids, non-hazardous drums, and contaminated soils from the site at off-site facilities.

Based on residential well sampling conducted in 1986 and from 1991 to 1993, downgradient residential wells were found to be contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) at levels considered unsafe by EPA. IDEM notified EPA and began a series of discussions regarding the extent of contamination and available cleanup alternatives.  In 1994, EPA received authorization from Mishawaka Utilities to install water line extensions to supply residents with municipal water.

IDEM conducted remedial investigation (RI) field activities at the site from 1993 to 1995 to define the nature and extent of contamination. In September 1995, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) to select a cleanup remedy, which included the excavation of on-site soils contaminated with TCE, performing monitored natural attenuation (MNA) of groundwater, the connection of impacted residences to municipal water, and the implementation of a groundwater protection ordinance.

In 1995 and 1996, EPA and IDEM offered municipal water connections to impacted residents. Water-line construction and city water connections for approximately 180 homes were completed as an EPA removal action in early 1996. Twenty-three residents declined the connection to municipal water system and continue to use their private wells. Three residents have since decided to connect to the municipal water system.

IDEM performed remedial design (RD) and remedial action (RA) work at the site via a Cooperative Agreement with EPA.  IDEM completed the RD work in 1998. The RD field investigation indicated that no on-site soil excavation was necessary, as had been contemplated in the 1995 ROD. This change was documented in a 1998 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD).

The St. Joseph County Health Department issued a groundwater protection ordinance effective in January 1999.

Beginning in 1998, IDEM initiated activities to define the groundwater plume and install groundwater monitoring wells for long-term monitoring. These field activities were completed in June 2003, and in December 2003 IDEM released a draft interim remedial action report describing the groundwater remedial action activities.  IDEM resumed groundwater monitoring activities in April 2007.

The first five-year review (FYR) assessing the effectiveness of the selected site remedy was conducted in the fall 2000. IDEM completed the second FYR in September 2005, and an addendum to the second FYR report was finalized in October 2007.  In 2008, EPA and IDEM finalized a plan to monitor the institutional controls at the site, including the county's groundwater protection ordinance.

In May 2010, the third FYR was completed.  EPA and IDEM are continuing to monitor the groundwater contaminant plume.  Additional monitoring wells were installed by IDEM in November 2013 to determine if the contaminant plume has spread beyond the county water ordinance plume boundary.  Results indicate that the groundwater contaminant plume is well defined. 

In early 2015, EPA will begin to investigate the potential for vapor intrusion, or the process where the shallow groundwater contaminants become a gas and has the potential to enter a building at its lowest floor (usually basement or crawl-space) and be inhaled by its residents. The results of the groundwater sampling will be summarized in the next FYR report, which is due in May 2015.  The Vapor Intrusion sampling results will be summarized in a report scheduled for July 2016.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
margaret gielniewski (gielniewski.margaret@epa.gov)
(312) 886-6244

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
Heriberto Leon
(312) 886-6163




Site Profile Information

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


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