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Site Information
  • St. Joseph, MI (Berrien County)
  • EPA ID# MID005107222

Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Cheryl Allen (allen.cheryl@epa.gov)
312-353-6196 or 800-621-8431, ext. 36196

Remedial Project Manager
William Ryan(ryan.williamj@epa.gov)
or 800-621-8431, ext. 3437
9 a.m. - 4 p.m., weekdays


(where to view written records)

Maud Preston Polenski Memorial Library
500 Market St.
St. Joseph, MI 49085
M-R 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., F-Sa 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.


Conditions at proposal (June 24, 1988): Bendix Corp., now known as Allied Automotive, manufactures automotive brake systems on a 4.4-acre site in St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan. The facility is located in a well-populated area, both commercial/industrial and residential in nature.

During approximately 1966-75, Bendix used a seepage lagoon for disposal of machine shop process waste water. According to information Bendix provided to EPA, spent chlorinated organic solvents, waste water from electroplating operations, spent cyanide plating bath solutions, chromium, and lead were placed in the lagoon.

A hydrogeologic study performed in 1986 by a consultant to Allied detected contamination in the shallow sand aquifer; 35 monitoring wells were installed and found to contain 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, trichloroethylene, trans-1,2-dichlorethylene, and vinyl chloride. An estimated 4,300 people obtain drinking water from private wells within 3 miles of the site. A private well approximately 750 feet from the site was closed in 1982 because of contamination. The well owner now obtains water from a municipal system.
Status (February 21, 1990): On February 13, 1989, Bendix (Allied Automotive) entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA to conduct a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine the type and extent of contamination at the site and identify alternatives for remedial action.

In August 1989, Bendix began work on a treatability study to determine if a biological process would be a feasible alternative for removing the volatile organic chemicals in ground water underlying the site.
Currently, Bendix is modifying the workplan for the RI/FS in response to EPA's comments and plans to begin field work early in 1990.

For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs.

Site Updates | News Releases | Fact Sheets || Technical Documents || Legal Agreements || Public Meetings

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Site Updates

January 2015

The Bendix Superfund Site is located approximately four miles south of the city of St. Joseph at 3737 Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County, Michigan. Contamination at the Site comes from two source areas located within the boundaries of the former Bendix Automotive plant, now owned and operated by Bosch Braking Systems. While Bendix operated the plant, chlorinated solvents were discharged to unlined lagoons, and possibly a well, allowing these solvents to contaminate the local groundwater. The source areas are located approximately one-half mile east of Lake Michigan and one-quarter mile west of Hickory Creek. The topography in the source areas is generally flat and covered by buildings and pavement, but to the west the land surface slopes toward Lake Michigan, and to the east it slopes toward Hickory Creek, creating a hydrogeological divide. Land use in the area is a mixture of light industry, commercial, and residential.

A Remedial Investigation was completed under an Administrative Order in February 1989. Studies conducted by Bendix, EPA, Kerr Laboratory, and the University of Michigan concluded that natural attenuation was occurring and effectively limiting the discharge of contaminants into Lake Michigan and Hickory Creek. A Record of Decision was signed on September 30, 1997, selecting Monitored Natural Attenuation as the Remedial Action for both the western and eastern plumes, with Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE) added to control the source of eastern plume. The SVE system has been operating since 1999, and has eliminated approximately 3,000 pounds of dissolved industrial compounds. VOC concentrations in the soils have decreased 98%.

Nevertheless, the 2004 Five-Year Review determined that natural attenuation was not fulfilling the objectives stipulated by current guidance, probably because measures were never implemented to control the source of the western plume. EPA sent Bosch a Notice of Exceedance in September 2007, because contaminant concentrations in designated wells were above compliance criteria. In response, Bosch installed a groundwater extraction and treatment system to control the source of the western plume. 

The groundwater extraction and treatment system went into regular operation in September 2009. Three extractions wells are located in the parking lot north of the Bosch facility. Extracted groundwater is processed by an air stripper to remove VOCs, and the treated water is discharged to Hickory Creek. The gasses from the treated groundwater are processed by a catalytic oxidation system to reduce volatiles to State air quality standards before they are released to the atmosphere. Current estimates indicate the system will run 12 to 14 years prior to shutdown. Since startup  the groundwater extraction and treatment system has removed approximately 894 pounds of VOCs from the western plume source area. When target reductions are reached, Bosch may petition EPA for authorization to shut the system down. 

The most recent Five-Year Review was conducted in 2014. This review concluded that The Bendix Site remedy currently protects human health and the environment. Contact with contaminated soil is prevented by pavement; the SVE system controls the source of the eastern plume; the groundwater extraction and treatment system controls the source of the western plume; and natural attenuation continues to reduce contaminant concentrations throughout the affected areas. A long-term monitoring program functions to ensure that threats to human health and the environment remain below regulatory thresholds, and Institutional Controls are in place to restrict the use of contaminated groundwater, ensure access, protect remedy implementation, and prevent disturbance of the source areas.

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