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Pines Ground Water Plume Site

Site Information
Map of boron & molybdenumView larger map
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Susan Pastor (pastor.susan@epa.gov)
312-353-1325 or 800-621-8431, ext. 31325

Remedial Project Manager
Erik Hardin
312-886-2402 or 800-621-8431, ext. 62402  

On-Scene Coordinator
Jacob Hassan (hassan.jacob@epa.gov)
312-886-6864 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66864

Media/Press Contact
Francisco Acraute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)

IDEM Project Manager
Doug Petroff
Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Indiana State Department of Health
Environmental Public Health Division Director  
Mike Mettler

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry
Senior Environmental Health Scientist
Mark D. Johnson


(where to view written records)

Michigan City Public Library
100 E. 4th St.
Michigan City, IN

Public Meeting

EPA will hold a public meeting and informal open house to provide an update on the residential soil cleanup and ongoing groundwater investigation.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015

Clarion Hotel
5820 S. Franklin St., Michigan City, IN 

Open House: 1-4 p.m.
Meeting:  6:30-9 p.m.


The Pines Groundwater Site is located about 4 miles west of Michigan City and about 1 mile south of Lake Michigan in Porter County, Indiana.

EPA tested residential drinking water wells in the Town of Pines in May 2002, based on high levels of the metals boron and molybdenum found in drinking water wells by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The metals appeared to come from coal combustion by-products, or CCBs, composed primarily of fly ash that was disposed of in a nearby landfill called Yard 520. Other areas in the town were also identified as having CCB materials.  Ash, primarily bottom ash, was used as fill in residential yards as well as road surfaces and subsurfaces.  CCBs are the result of burning coal to make electricity.

In 2003 and 2004, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Brown, Inc., Ddalt Corp., and Bulk Transport, the companies determined to be responsible for the contamination, agreed  to provide municipal water to about 270 homes in and near the Town of Pines. About 70 more homes received bottled water pending the results of an investigation.  The results are summarized in a 2010 document called a remedial investigation report.

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Site Updates | Fact Sheets || Technical Documents || Legal Agreements || Public Meetings || Photos

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Site Updates

September 2015

EPA oversaw NIPSCO and its contactors take soil samples in May at 44 residential properties.  They are using the information collected to evaluate the presence of high levels of arsenic from coal ash.  EPA also took some soil samples for analysis to confirm NIPSCO’s findings.  A second round of sampling was done by the end of July at properties where permission was not obtained before the May sampling event.  Property owners who have since requested that their yards be sampled were included.  Other Pines properties may be sampled upon request. Request to be sampled.

When work plans and legal agreements with NIPSCO are completed, the company will start to clean up the coal ash on properties where high levels of arsenic were found.  The entire sampling and cleanup process is expected to take about a year.

Because the playground near the town hall is one of the areas with high arsenic levels, the equipment has been removed.

Early this year, EPA and NIPSCO discovered higher-than-normal levels of arsenic in soil samples taken at seven properties in 2014. This was most likely caused by fly ash from coal combustion which was used as landscaping fill throughout town in the 1970s. Since then, NIPSCO has been in communication with EPA, as well as each of the property owners, about the results and to discuss the next steps. The  properties sampled were selected by EPA and the local community group People in Need of Environmental Safety (PINES) as part of a continuing investigation to assess the presence of coal ash.  Shortly after the high arsenic levels were discovered, efforts were made to begin sampling additional properties thought to have fly ash.

The sampling that lead to the discovery of high arsenic levels began in spring 2014 to determine if coal ash caused high radiation levels. The testing, which was overseen by EPA, was done with the homeowners’ permission.  It involved a general scan of several dozen yards followed by more detailed sampling and analysis of nine properties.  A member of the PINES group took a sample at each of these properties as well, and those samples were analyzed by an EPA lab.  The results of all testing showed that radiation was not a concern.  The results of the general radiation scans can be found in a summary table Summary Table (PDF) (5pp, 232 K). Results from the more detailed scans are available upon request.

EPA recently commented on a revised draft of the feasibility study which includes several possible groundwater cleanup options.  After the study is approved, EPA will propose a groundwater cleanup plan and present it to the public for review and comment. EPA expects to make a final decision in mid 2016 after public comments are considered.

The PINES group currently has an EPA technical assistance plan to receive services such as technical advice and community outreach assistance valued at more than $50,000.


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