IDEM responds to questions surrounding new information about second toxic plume in Franklin


FRANKLIN, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management released information two weeks ago about a second hazardous area in Franklin, extending from the former tomato canning factory at the Hurricane Industry Complex to the Webb Wellfield area.

CBS4 spoke with Kari Rhinehart, co-founder of If It Was Your Child, who said the contaminants found on the site in the wells, which were used for municipal water, were found to have the byproducts of toxic TCE, PCE and more.

“I hope that this community will continue to push state, local officials and ask them to show us how they know for sure that they aren’t getting into the home,” Rhinehart urged.

CBS4 worked to get a face-to-face interview with IDEM after the release of this new map. However, no one with the agency was available, but will be during Tuesday’s EPA open house. That is set for 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Franklin branch of the Johnson County Public Library.

IDEM did however provide answers to questions provided to them in an email:

  • This isn’t new contamination, but it is new information for the public so why release the map now? Has this plume been fully delineated?

The information has been available to the public for some time; all public documents are available in IDEM’s Virtual File Cabinet. While the information had also been discussed by IDEM staff in public meetings and posted on our website, incorrect information is still circulating in the public concerning the extents of the “Hougland plume”. The maximum potential area of exposure of the “Hougland plume” was established early on in the site investigations through groundwater sampling to an overall area of no detections. However, further vertical and horizontal delineation within those larger bounds of non-detections has continued, so an adequate remedy can be proposed to address it. Now that there is a sufficient quantity of data available to map the TCE in groundwater from the former Hougland Cannery facility, a visible depiction of the work has been added to IDEM’s website.

IDEM felt it was important to release the map now (which includes the preliminary data) in order for the public to have it available for the next public information opportunity with the EPA and IDEM on Dec. 3, 2019.

  • What data did you guys use to come up with where the plume is exactly?

IDEM plotted the highest concentrations of TCE detected in groundwater on the map. The map data incorporates data from many site investigations, as well as preliminary data obtained from the most recent investigation in the adjacent farm field.

  • How can you be certain people have never been exposed in the area to contaminated groundwater or vapors when there are businesses on the site?

The former Webb Well Field has not been operational since late 2012, when all wells were closed. It had been used intermittently since 2007. However, water from the wells met all safe drinking water standards at all times. IDEM also determined from samplings that drinking water wells near the area of concern and outside of the defined boundary of no detections, were also non-detectable for the sampled compounds. Therefore, there were no drinking water exposures.

IDEM requested indoor air samplings in the buildings on the former Hougland property. The initial sampling, and a second sampling event, showed that the potential for chlorinated vapor intrusion (VI) is limited to the recycling center. An additional VI investigation is planned to determine potential sources from accepted materials and/or subsurface sources at the recycling center.

  • What happens now that you have put out this info? What’s next?

The public information session is the next step. Additionally, a soil source removal proposal at the former Hougland property has been received and approved, and excavation work will proceed shortly.  Further delineation of the “Hougland plume” will continue within the defined outer bounds of no detections until an adequate remedy can be proposed.

The soil source removal plan is spelled out on IDEM’s website. In a November 25, 2019 letter, IDEM said the Source Area Remedial Plan (RP) was submitted in response to the release of hazardous substances at the Reed Properties site located at 1056 Eastview Drive. You can see the details of the plan by visiting IDEM’s virtual filing cabinet and searching for document #82836039.

In the remedial measures, the company contracted by the IDEM requires excavation of contaminated soil 2 to 15 feet below ground surface. The company, Ramboll, stated in the letter they believe around 2,100 tons of soil will be removed. With IDEM’s approval, this process will only be completed after collection of certain soil samples no longer show contamination. If they do, more excavating will be required.

Ramboll is also working on a plan for contaminated groundwater and site closure at Reed Properties. IDEM’s recommendation for them is applying groundwater treatment product to the excavation areas before backfilling.

Ramboll also said a complete quality assurance/quality control documentation will  be submitted for the soil samples. IDEM said only the minimum data documentation is required because for this specific event because it is not for delineation or closure.

Finally, all contaminated soil must be disposed of properly.

IDEM added in the letter, its agency must be notified at least two weeks before any field activities. Reed Manufacturing Inc.’s team has 120 days from November 25, 2019 to submit the Remediation Completion Report to IDEM.

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