Dec 30, 2010

Companies Agree to Indiana Groundwater Cleanup Settlement

Contaminated groundwater will be removed and treated

The cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at a former oil-reprocessing operation in LaPorte County will be funded by 13 companies who have reached a $12 million settlement over the pollution, under an agreement announced today by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and federal officials.

The consent agreement filed in federal court December 22 resolves state environmental claims involving the former Cam-Or industrial property on State Road 2 in Westville, Ind., that was named a Superfund site in 1987 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Originally owned by Westville Oil, the facility operated as a refinery for reprocessing waste oil starting in 1934. From the 1950s to 1978, waste oil discarded at the facility was stored in lagoons that lacked linings, and contaminants leached into the soil and groundwater. Cam-Or Inc. purchased Westville Oil in 1976 and operated the refinery until 1987, when it shut down the facility in response to EPA and IDEM requirements for closing the oil lagoons. An initial cleanup took place in 1987.

EPA brought legal action in 1987 and issued an administrative order in 1989 against several companies that were Cam-Or customers and generated the waste oil, and required them to undertake cleanup actions. Due to contamination, the 15-acre Cam-Or property in March 1998 also was added to EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). An EPA administrative order with the group of customer companies in 2002 triggered an investigation and feasibility study to more fully define the extent of contamination and develop alternatives for cleanup.

Among the environmental problems: Groundwater along a one-mile plume extending from the site is contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, a solvent, as well as semi-volatile organic compounds and volatile organic compounds. Also, soil at the site is contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and a diesel-type hydrocarbon. Under the EPA’s June 2008 Record of Decision outlining its selected methods for remediating the site, lead-contaminated soil will be excavated and safely consolidated on-site, and contaminated groundwater will be extracted and treated. Long-term monitoring will be conducted to ensure contamination is addressed. The settling companies will pay for the remediation work, under the oversight of IDEM and EPA.

Under the consent agreement, the settling companies agree to establish and maintain a $12 million performance guarantee to complete an engineering design and conduct cleanup at the site. (That could include a surety bond, irrevocable letters of credit, trust fund or insurance policy.) According to EPA, they also will pay EPA $200,000 in settled costs and another $2.2 million for future oversight costs, providing a total value of the settlement of $14.4 million. They have agreed to pay the State of Indiana’s oversight costs in full for the duration of the remedy, which could last 25 years or more, the agreement says.