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Congressional District # 06


EPA ID# MID006028062
Last Updated: August, 2015

Site Description

The Rockwell International Corp. (Rockwell) site is a 30-acre site located in Allegan, Allegan County, Michigan.  From the 1920s until 1991, Rockwell manufactured universal joints and drive-line equipment for heavy trucks and construction equipment at the site.  During the manufacturing operations, Rockwell discharged waste water containing process wastes and waste oils to the Kalamazoo River, a "wetland" area behind the plant and a series of lagoons.  Prior to 1970, the wetland area and the lagoons were filled in and built over.  During the 1970s, Rockwell installed a waste water treatment system at the site and discharged the treated wastes through a series of three new lagoons to the Kalamazoo River under a National Pollutant Elimination Discharge System permit.  From 1947 to 1972, Allegan operated an 11-acre municipal landfill adjacent to the site.  In 1965, Rockwell purchased four acres of the landfill for use as a parking lot.  Portions of the landfill may overlap with areas of Rockwell waste disposal. 

Surface and subsurface soils, groundwater, and sediments in the lagoons and the Kalamazoo River were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-VOCs, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals.  Oil containing semi-VOCs and PCBs was present in the waste disposal areas.

Approximately 8,150 people live within three miles of the site.  The area is served by a public water supply system, and three municipal wells are located one-half mile up-gradient of the site.  At least 15 private wells are located within one mile of the site.  Groundwater discharges to the Kalamazoo River. 

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through a potentially responsible party's actions with federal oversight.

Threats and Contaminants

Surface and subsurface soils, groundwater, and sediments in the lagoons and Kalamazoo River were contaminated with VOCs, semi-VOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals. VOCs, semi-VOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals were also detected in the landfill. Oil, containing semi-VOCs and PCBs, was present in the waste disposal areas.  Oil was present at various areas on the site.

Cleanup Progress

In 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked with the City of Allegan to complete an investigation and a risk assessment for the unsaturated landfill materials. The risk assessment indicated that the landfilled materials did not pose a risk to human health or the environment, and that no cleanup actions were necessary.  EPA issued a "no action" Record of Decision (ROD) for the landfill materials in June 1995. 

A Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the rest of the site, including the groundwater under the landfill, was conducted by Meritor (formerly Rockwell) under EPA oversight from 1988 to 1998 under an Administrative Order by Consent (AOC).  Meritor conducted field investigations at the site in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1996.  Meritor submitted a final RI report in February 1998 which was disapproved by  EPA.  In April 1998, EPA issued Meritor a notice of determination that Meritor was unable to, or unwilling, to perform a satisfactory, proper, or prompt RI/FS; that Meritor was not qualified to conduct the RI/FS at the site;  and that the performance of an RI/FS by EPA was necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment. 

EPA completed the RI field work in 2001 and issued a proposed cleanup plan for the site in summer 2002.  EPA issued the Record of Decision (ROD) in September 2002.  In the ROD, EPA selected a remedy which included the following actions for soils and other source materials:  1) excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 47,000 cubic yards of soil and pond sediments; 2) investigation and removal of any contaminated drains, lines, vaults, etc., that may be found under the building; 3) demolition and removal of former manufacturing building and foundation to the extent necessary to address contamination; 4) restoration of the site to current grades, with the option of allowing the northern pond area to return to its historical elevation when it was a backwater area of the Kalamazoo River; and 5) implementation of deed notices to limit development to uses that are consistent with cleanup levels.  In addition, in the ROD, EPA selected the following actions for ground water:  1) construction of a soil-bentonite slurry wall to laterally surround (fully or partially) and restrict ground water flow; 2) installation of permeable reactive gates within the slurry wall footprint to allow in-situ treatment of ground water prior to its movement to the Kalamazoo River; 3) installation of additional monitoring wells and a ground water monitoring program; 4) implementation of ground water use restrictions; and 5) a contingency for closure of the slurry wall and extraction and treatment of ground water if the slurry wall and permeable reactive gates fail to sufficiently prevent the movement of contaminated ground water to the river. 

In conjunction with the ROD, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to ArvinMeritor, Inc. for the performance of the Remedial Design (RD) and Remedial Action (RA) to implement the ROD.  RD work was completed in mid-2004 with RA work commencing in 2005.

In the fall of 2001, a removal action was commenced to address elevated levels of PCBs present in a residential yard across from the site. After the initial completion of this work, PCB-contaminated oil was found in the bedding material of sewers, running through the neighborhood across the street from the site. A removal action addressed both the contaminated soil and the oil-impacted soils along the sewer lines. Removal work was completed in December 2002. 

RA activities to address soils and other source materials were conducted in 2006.  In late winter 2008, fifteen additional monitoring wells were installed along the Kalamazoo River and the interior of the site to further assess ground water quality following removal of contaminated soils and other materials.  Results from ground water monitoring were to be used to assess the effectiveness of source material removal actions and to analyze whether current ground water quality meets MDEQ criteria for discharge to the Kalamazoo River.  Late in 2008, the monitoring program discovered additional non-aqueous phase liquid, or NAPL, at the site.  This demonstrated the continued presence of NAPL source material, for which the ROD requires removal.  The work plan for the site was revised to utilize updated methods to delineate NAPL in the soil.  In May 2010, field sampling occurred where NAPL found in wells identified preliminary boundaries where NAPL was present.  Excavation was conducted from October 2010 through January 2011 to remove NAPL at the site.  In April 2011, EPA requested that the PRP modify the interim groundwater monitoring program at the site to collect data for all contaminants of concern to complete the remedial design of the groundwater containment remedy for the site.  That plan was approved in 2012, and one year of quarterly monitoring was conducted in 2012 and 2013.  EPA is currently evaluating the data to determine the need for a slurry wall with treatment gates as required in the ROD.

The second Five Year Review for the site is was signed on April 28, 2015.  The Five Year Review concluded that the site is protective of human health and the environment in the short term, and needs additional institutional controls to remain protective of human health and the environment in the long term.

Community Involvement

Members of the community have been advised of the progress of the cleanup work on-site through a series of meetings and fact sheets posted near the site.  A Five Year Review was completed in spring 2010.  The second Five Year Review is scheduled for May 2015.

Property Reuse

The landowner, the City of Allegan, is currently in discussion with county officials about various reuse plans.   In addition, in July 2007, EPA conducted a situation assessment of the site, including information gathering from local stakeholders and review of community planning materials.  A report was released in early 2008.  Additional opportunities for future reuse of this property arise from time to time and the City of Allegan maintains strong interest in exploring redevelopment to the extent possible until remedial construction is completed at the Site.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
jena sleboda (sleboda.jena@epa.gov)
(312) 353-1263

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
cheryl allen
(312) 353-6196




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


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