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Congressional District # 03


EPA ID# MID980794416
Last Updated: December, 2014

Site Description

The Ionia City Landfill is a closed 20-acre landfill in the City of Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. The site is located in the flood plain of the Grand River and operated from the mid-1930s until it closed in 1968 or 1969. During operation mixed residential and industrial wastes, including drummed liquids and solids, were dumped and burned at the site. In 1981, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater. Samples of drummed wastes revealed the presence of paint wastes and spent solvents. The Remedial Investigation, completed in 1989, identified a one-quarter-acre area in the northern portion of the site containing approximately 6,000 cubic yards of drummed wastes and contaminated soils. Approximately 6,000 people live within one mile of the site. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the site for the National Priorities List (NPL) in December 1982 and finalized the site on the NPL in September 1983.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through federal and potentially responsible parties' actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Contaminants detected included methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethene, toluene, styrene, and lead. A plume of contaminated groundwater, containing high concentrations of vinyl chloride, methylene chloride, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, trichloroethene, and other VOCs, was defined in the vicinity of the drum disposal area. Contaminated groundwater containing lower levels of VOCs extends to the Grand River which is located immediately south of the site and approximately one-third-mile from the area of buried drums. Analyses of surface water and sediment samples from the Grand River have shown no contamination; however, VOC contamination has been detected in a small intermittent stream that abuts the eastern boundary of the site. No drinking water supplies are impacted or threatened by groundwater contamination at the site. 

Cleanup Progress

In 1984, the City removed and disposed of exposed drums under the terms of a Unilateral Administrative Order. Following EPA's issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD) in 1989, a Consent Decree was entered in 1990, whereby the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) would utilize in-situ vitrification to remediate the area of drummed wastes and contaminated soils in the northern portion of the site. Due to numerous delays, however, the remedy was never implemented. As a result of worsening groundwater conditions at the site, the PRPs removed approximately 7,000 cubic yards of bulk waste, drums, and contaminated soil in 1994 under the terms of a negotiated Consent Order. In 1995, a second Consent Order was negotiated under which the PRPs installed and operated a groundwater pump and treatment system to contain the higher concentrations of VOCs in groundwater. This work was undertaken as a removal action. Construction of the extraction and treatment system was completed in November 1997.

EPA signed a second ROD for the site on September 28, 2000. The ROD called for the continued operation of the groundwater pump and treatment system (air stripper) to capture and remove VOCs within the 500 microgram per liter (ug/L) total VOC isopleth. The ROD also required long-term monitoring for those contaminants outside the influence of the pump and treatment system. In November 2001, the federal government and the PRPs signed a Consent Decree for implementation of the ROD. A Vertical Aquifer Sampling Field Study was conducted during November and December 2002 to determine the extent and distribution of VOCs.

In October 2003, the treatment portion of the pump and treatment system was shut down, because contaminant levels were below City of Ionia waste water treatment plant cleanup levels.

Based upon data collected at the site following shutdown of the treatment system, it appeared that the full extent of the contaminant plume had been delineated and that monitored natural attenuation (MNA) was reducing some, if not all, of the remaining contamination. 

On September 29, 2008, EPA signed an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) which outlined a plan to shut off the groundwater pumping system to assist in determining whether MNA was occurring at the site. The plan was to monitor the site for approximately one year to see if the contaminant plume would remain as it was when the pumping system was operating. The ESD also documented EPA's determination that the Kanouse Drain is not connected to the aquifer at the site and that groundwater standards therefore did not apply to the Kanouse Drain.

EPA completed the first five-year review for the site in September 2005. In July 2010, EPA completed the second five-year review of the site remedy. The 2010 review indicated that the shutdown of the pumping system had no negative impacts on MNA effectively working to reduce contaminants at the site.  

EPA signed a ROD Amendment for the site on September 22, 2011. The ROD Amendment called for the permant shutdown of the pumping system and selected MNA as the remedy for the areas outside of the landfill (i.e., Area A and Area B). The ROD Amendment also expanded the site's boundaries to completely contain the remaining contaminated groundwater plume to efficiently allow MNA processes to work.

The third five year-review report for the site will be completed by July 2015.

Community Involvement

EPA held a public meeting in Ionia on July 21, 2011, to present the proposed plan for the proposed ROD Amendment. The public comment period ran from July 6 through August 6, 2011.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
demaree collier (collier.demaree@epa.gov)
(312) 886-0214

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




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