In September 2001, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) conducted groundwater sampling at several private drinking wells throughout the Town of Pines, Indiana. The analytical results showed elevated levels of boron and molybdenum in some residential wells. In May 2002, EPA sampled of over 100 drinking water wells in the Town of Pines. Laboratory analysis of these samples showed that drinking water wells at 30 homes and businesses in the Pines community were contaminated with elevated levels of boron and/or molybdenum that exceeded Removal Action Levels (RALs). An alternative water supply was provided for these homes. A subsequent groundwater investigation identified the source of the contamination to be from a state permitted Landfill located in the Town of Pines. The landfill, Yard 520, received coal ash from the Michigan City Power Generation Station which was and is owned and operated by NIPSCO. As a result, NIPSCO and the other PRPs entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with EPA to install a municipal waterline for the residents with impacted drinking water. In April 2004, a second AOC was signed by the PRP’s that required a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS for 2004 AOC or RI/FS), which is currently on-going. As a part of the RI/FS, a residential radiation survey and supplemental soil sampling was conducted by NIPSCO’s contractors in November 2014, due to concerns of historical use of fly ash as fill material at locations in and near the Town of Pines.
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In September 2014, NIPSCO conducted the radiation survey and supplement soil sampling event at nine properties, including residential properties and properties owned by the Town of Pines, identified by NIPSCO as having received and used fly ash material from the Michigan City Power Plant for fill material. Soil samples were collected and analyzed under an EPA approved sampling plan and QAPP. Soil sample results indicated elevated levels of arsenic and thallium. In total, seven of nine properties had arsenic levels above background, but only five of those had arsenic levels exceeding the removal action level of 67 mg/kg. Utilizing town records from the 1970s, anecdotal information from residents, visual inspections conducted during the municipal water line installation, among other means, at least 37 additional properties have been identified as accepting or potentially accepting fly ash for fill material.
Supplemental soil sampling was conducted by NIPSCO and their contractors, with oversight from EPA, in May 2015. Analytical results from those sampling events will identify additional properties for the removal action. Town of Pines residents that would like their properties can contact Jacob Hassan at the EPA to be added to the sampling list.