Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) Bailly Generating Station - Chesterton, Indiana
- Cleanup Status
- Site Description
- Contaminants at this Facility
- Institutional/Engineer Controls
- Land Reuse
- Site Responsibility
Congress amended the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in November 1984, expanding the Act's cleanup provisions and prompting EPA and its state partners to develop the RCRA Corrective Action Program. The program oversees the investigation and cleanup of nearly 4,000 hazardous waste sites across the country, including many with risks comparable to Superfund sites.
The NIPSCO Bailly Generating Station (Bailly) is a 350-acre former coal-fired power plant located along the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Portions of the site have been cleaned up under a July 9, 2012 EPA Final Decision (see reports under Additional Site Information). Areas A and B were included in that Final Decision. Those areas included the power generation buildings and infrastructure.
Area C is currently being evaluated and EPA will be proposing a remedy soon (see maps under Additional Site Information). This area includes areas of former coal ash disposal and the off-site portions of the Indiana Dunes National Park that were impacted by the on-site activities.
Construction of the coal-fired power plant began in 1959 and it became operational in 1962. Between 1962 and 2018 the facility supplied electricity to the northern half of Indiana. In spring 2018 the facility retired its coal-fired operations.
In 2005, EPA identified a total of 24 areas at the facility that required investigation for possible contamination. A series of sampling events and environmental studies have been conducted since to better understand the nature and extent of contamination. It was determined that coal combustion residuals (CCR), or coal ash, was the main source of contamination. Area A included an area that was used for the temporary placement of coal ash on the ground. That area had contributed to contamination of the groundwater and was subsequently cleaned up under EPA’s 2012 Final Decision. Area C includes a 17-acre area where coal ash had been disposed of between 1965 and 1979. EPA’s forthcoming proposed remedy for Area C will include a remedy for that disposal area and the downgradient areas of impact within the Indiana Dunes National Park.
CCR, or coal ash, is the primary source of contamination at the facility. CCR is the byproduct of burning coal and typically leaves certain types of metals in the ash. Those metals can then contaminate soil or groundwater that the ash comes in contact with. At Bailly the contaminants consistently detected above screening levels include aluminum, arsenic, boron, cadmium, molybdenum and selenium. Boron has been identified as a risk-driver for the off-site groundwater impacting the National Park.
The RCRA Corrective Action program designates the lead agency as the entity that oversees the investigation and cleanup work. The program was designed to reduce the number of tax-payer Superfund sites. Therefore, the company (NIPSCO) is responsible for the cost and implementation of work. EPA oversees and must approve of all work conducted under the program.