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Feds propose putting another Elkhart County site on the Superfund list

The location west of Elkhart has been the focus of testing since 1996 and 147 drinking wells could be contaminated.

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 4:37 p.m.

Federal officials propose putting a site west of Elkhart on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list, potentially making it eligible for funding to deal with suspected environmental problems.

In a proposed new rule published in the Federal Register Monday, May 12, the EPA proposes adding what’s been dubbed the North Shore Site to the agency’s National Priorities List, or NPL. Twelve contaminated residential wells have been discovered in the area, located between Old U.S. 20 and the St. Joseph River, just east of Ash Road and the St. Joseph County line, according to the EPA.

  • Scroll down to see an approximate map of the North Shore site.

If the North Shore site makes it on to the NPL, it would become the sixth Superfund location in Elkhart County. Per the rule proposal in the Federal Register, a 60-day period commences allowing for submission of comments on the proposed designation until July 11.

Laura Coyne, community development director in the Elkhart County Planning and Development department, said the designation would potentially open the way for funds to connect the zone to Elkhart’s municipal water supply. At one time, there was a concentration of automotive and truck repair operations in the area, she said, though the EPA has yet to pinpoint a precise source for contamination.

The site was initially discovered in 1996 and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has carried out testing since then. It’s southeast of the Old U.S. 20 Walmart, in what Elkhart County officials dub the Northwest Gateway to the county.

Here are more particulars on the North Shore Site, pulling from a 48-page report on the EPA website and other EPA information:

  • The contaminated groundwater plume that’s the focus of attention covers approximately 70 acres.
  • Chemicals found in the plume include chlorinated solvents, such as trichloroethene, an industrial solvent, and tetrachloroethene, used in dry cleaning and de-greasing operations, according to the EPA.
  • IDEM has sampled drinking wells at 43 homes, finding contamination in 12. Around 147 drinking wells within a quarter mile of the site could be contaminated and IDEM has provided carbon filters to nine homes in light of particularly high levels of contaminants discovered in the wells that serve them.
  • Though pinpointing no source, the report on the EPA website identifies 17 businesses in the area as possible sources of contamination, including several automotive repair operations.

Other Superfund sites in Elkhart County include the Lane Street, Conrail, Lusher Avenue, Main Street Well Field and HIMCO Dump sites. 

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.




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