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EPA in Indiana

Amphenol/Franklin Power Products in Franklin, Ind.

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January  2021

On January 8, 2021, while walking the Franklin Greenways Trail, a resident noticed a seep where groundwater was coming to the surface, also known as daylighting. The seep was observed on property owned by Duke Energy just south of Hurricane Creek near North Forsythe Avenue and reported to Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The next day, IDEM’s Emergency Response program visited the site and by field-testing the seep water got immediate results. The results showed that the water contained high levels of ammonia-nitrogen, consistent with septic waste, and is not related to the Amphenol site groundwater treatment pilot study. The pilot study injections were far from the seep area and separated by the creek. Furthermore, the pilot study application was in October 2019. The seep is near the foundation of a demolished building indicating the seepage source could be a collapsed, abandoned septic tank. Therefore, IDEM referred the matter to the Johnson County Health Department. 

On January 12, 2021, Duke Energy sampled the seep for septic waste and a long list of industrial chemicals. Based on draft analytical results reported by the laboratory, only septic-related contaminants were found. IDEM will post the final Duke Energy sample results on its Virtual Filing Cabinet upon receipt.

The Johnson County Health Department will respond to this matter with assistance from IDEM. The area of interest is outside the boundaries of the Amphenol site study area.

On January 11, 2021, EPA approved a work plan for collecting additional on-site soil and groundwater samples at the Amphenol Site.  In December 2020, Amphenol identified a need for additional information on subsurface conditions on-site, specifically soil and groundwater beneath the site building.  Amphenol will install up to 20 soil borings and collect up to 12 groundwater samples.  In addition, two new permanent on-site groundwater monitoring wells will be installed inside the building.  The information collected from this sampling event will be used to design and evaluate cleanup options for on-site soil.  

The sampling work began on January 11 and was completed January 18, 2021.  Because the drilling will proceed inside the occupied commercial building, it will be completed during evening hours to minimize disturbance to the workers and ongoing operations. 

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Progress Summaries

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Franklin Power Products, Inc. and Amphenol Corp. conducted an environmental investigation and cleanup at their former Franklin, Ind. industrial facility under two Administrative Consent Orders issued by EPA’s RCRA Corrective Action program in 1990 and 1998.

EPA determined that a former owner and operator, Bendix Corp., released volitile organic compounds and other chemicals into the environment, including into on-site sewers which transported the contamination outside the property boundaries to the neighborhood south of the facility, prior to 1983.

The EPA’s orders required Franklin Power Products and Amphenol to investigate the releases of VOCs, including known carcinogens, to determine what was released and where it may have travelled, and to determine the potential health risks and environmental effects of the contamination. A sewer line found to be contaminated was replaced and contaminated soil was removed from a source area on-site. EPA also required the companies to construct and operate clean-up measures, including a groundwater pump-and-treat system, which has been in operation since 1995. EPA continues to oversee performance of this cleanup.

Webb Well Field, an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) State Cleanup Program site, is located about ¾-mile north of the Amphenol site. Both sites are in Johnson County. Two of three supply wells in the former municipal water well field were found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds; these were taken off-line by 2007.  The third supply well was decommissioned in 2013.  In 2007, Amphenol investigated possible migration of VOC-contaminated groundwater from its site to the Webb Well Field. Amphenol provided a groundwater particle tracking study to EPA to demonstrate that the VOC contamination found in the two impacted supply wells did not come from its facility. EPA determined that the evidence supported their position.  For information, see IDEM web pageExit

In July, 2018 Edison Wetlands Association and the “If It Was Your Child” organization raised concerns to EPA and IDEM about volatile organic compounds seeping into homes near the Amphenol/Franklin Power Products and Webb Well Field sites in Franklin. EPA will require that Amphenol Corp. investigate groundwater conditions and complete a comprehensive investigation of “vapor Intrusion” in the residential area near the site. EPA will oversee the investigation. EPA is coordinating closely with the State of Indiana and federal agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and will follow up with the community as more information becomes available.

Edison Wetlands Association also raised concerns about the potential for intrusion of radon gas at homes in Franklin. Radon is naturally occurring. Exposure to radon can result in adverse health effects. Residents can hire an Indiana-licensed professional to test their homes for radon and install a mitigation system if needed. For more information:

EPA joined Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Public Health and the federal agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at an Aug. 3 2018 public meeting in Franklin, Ind.

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Vapor Intrusion Updates

Nov. 27, 2018

Vapor intrusion (VI) occurs when vapor-forming chemicals from an underground source move into a building.  A VI investigation follows a potential path of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the source of the chemical (for example, a spill or release to the ground) to potential exposure indoors.  VOCs often migrate in groundwater and can also travel along a pathway such as a sewer or utility trench.

Under EPA oversight, Amphenol Corp. is completing a vapor intrusion (VI) investigation in the neighborhood south of the former Amphenol facility.  See the aerial view of the off-site vapor intrusion study area.

The VI investigation is based on historical data that show migration of VOCs from the former Franklin Power Products/Amphenol Corporation Site into the residential area through groundwater and sewer lines.  The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether remaining contamination reaches the indoor air of homes and poses risk to occupants.

The VI investigation at Amphenol includes sampling VOC sewer gas, sewer backfill (bedding) gas, groundwater, and indoor air of homes.  To speed up the investigation, soil gas was sampled along streets within the city of Franklin rights of way (ROWs).  Where soil gas was elevated above vapor intrusion screening levels in the ROW, the nearby homes were put on the list for indoor air sampling (priority homes list).  30 sewer manholes were sampled in the study area to determine if VOC contamination was present at elevated levels.  VOCs were elevated along Forsythe Street and parts of Hamilton Ave. Where sewer gas was elevated above safe indoor air levels, the nearby homes were added to the priority homes list. Where groundwater was elevated above vapor intrusion screening levels, nearby homes were added to the priority homes list.

For the results of the VI investigation, see Groundwater Documents and Maps, Sewer Gas Documents and Maps and Soil Gas Documents and Maps.

Per the investigation steps, where groundwater, soil gas, and sewer line samples exceed applicable screening levels, the investigation proceeds to sampling beneath and/or within nearby homes.  As of November 27, 2018, 37 homes are on the “priority homes” list for indoor air sampling.  Results of vapor intrusion indoor air sampling are private and shared with the residents.

Based on evaluation of the data from this investigation, the study area may be expanded.

  • The week of September 16, 2018, two or more additional priority homes will be sampled for sub-slab soil gas, sewer gas, indoor air, and ambient air.  
  • On September 13, 2018, Amphenol began sewer gas sampling in the study area following the EPA approval of its Sewer Gas Vapor Intrusion Investigation Work Plan, Franklin Power Products, Inc./Amphenol Corporation, dated September 10, 2018.
  • The week of September 9, 2018, Amphenol began preparing for the sewer gas sampling in coordination with EPA.
  • The week of September 9, 2018, residents in the Study Area received “door hangers” alerting them to sampling activity in the neighborhood.
  • On September 4, 2018, Amphenol began sampling soil gas, ambient air, and indoor air at the first of approximately nine priority homes near the facility.  Home sampling is contingent upon access agreements with homeowners and residents. 
  • On August 30, 2018, EPA asked Amphenol Corp. to submit a work plan describing the VI investigation approach. With EPA concurrence, Amphenol has been submitting separate work plans for the different sampling components, to expedite the investigation.

Sewer Vapor Migration Pathway

Elevated VOC vapors have been found in manholes in the sanitary sewer lines along streets in the Amphenol Study Area.  Sewer vapors can travel from the sewer lines into homes via the pipes that connect a home’s sewer system to the main sewer line.  The connection pipes are called “sewer laterals.”   All homes near sewer lines contaminated with VOC vapors were added to the list of homes needing indoor air sampling for contaminants, including VOC vapor in the sewer lateral.

Where vapors are elevated in the sewer laterals, Amphenol performs pressure tests in the associated homes to determine whether the plumbing system is sealed.  Amphenol looks for leaks by pumping a  vapor mist with a citrus aroma into the pipe.  If mist or citrus aroma odor is observed, then Amphenol uses a plumbing contractor to repair the  fixture. Here are examples of some of the issues found and repairs made to correct vapor leaks in the plumbing system: 

  • Old water softener lines that were not sealed when disconnected and replaced were capped.
  • Sewer line exhaust that vented inside an attic was rerouted to vent outside the home.
  • Vapor leaks observed around toilet flanges were replaced and the toilets reset.
  • A portion of the main sewer line under a home was an entry point for a bathtub drain.  The sewer lateral was cracked and no longer vapor-tight.  The cracked pipe was removed and replaced with a new PVC fitting. 
  • Leaking sanitary lines were sealed at the slab entry point and other joints.
  • Vapor leaks observed in unused toilets/shower drains with dry P-traps were sealed with an expandable plug.
  • Plumbing vents beneath sinks and at other interior locations were sealed.
  • A sewer lateral was relocated, and an exterior sewer cleanout installed to adequately pressurize the plumbing system.
  • Sump pits were sealed with an appropriate sump lid.
  • One-way specialized plugs in floor drains were installed to allow water to drain and prevent vapors from entering.
  • Unfinished walls were sealed where an interior room was in direct communication with a crawlspace.

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Air Sampling Updates

  • On August 3, 2018 Amphenol installed a filter (vapor carbon system) on the emissions pipe to virtually eliminate its VOC emissions.
  • Under supervision by EPA and IDEM, Amphenol collected 8-hour ambient (outdoor) air samples from six locations around the boundary of its site on July 26, 2018. A laboratory analyzed the samples and an independent data validation company has checked the results.  These samples were analyzed for the nine volatile organic compound (VOC) chemicals associated with the historic releases from the former Amphenol site.  Results at the fence line indicated that outdoor air concentrations of VOCs are below EPA’s health-based screening levels for residential exposure.
  • The emissions pipe at the groundwater recovery air stripping system was also sampled. Emissions were measured at a rate of approximately 8 pounds total VOCs per year. To put this in perspective, IDEM would issue an air permit for this system only if the air emissions reached at least 2,000 pounds per year.

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