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Congressional District # 02


EPA ID# INN000508071
Last Updated: May, 2015

Site Description

The Pines Site (the Site) is located in the Township of Pines, including the Town of Pines, in Porter County, Indiana. The Site is approximately 4 miles west of Michigan City, Indiana and 1 mile south of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The Site is approximately 1430 acres in size and oval in shape. The Site is generally bounded on the northeast by County Line Road (except for a small portion including Kintzele Ditch between U.S. Highway 12 and Railroad Avenue), on the northwest to about 1000 ft. northwest of the South Shore and South Bend RR tracks, on the southeast to about 1,000 ft. southeast of the Chesapeake and Ohio RR tracks, and on the southwest to about 1,300 ft. east of 500 East Road.

Locally, the Site lies within the Calumet Lacustrian Plain, which contains a series of sand dune ridge complexes parallel to Lake Michigan. The Town of Pines is characterized by a hilly and forested development.  There are about 300 residences in the dunal area and approximately 100 residences in the township where low-lying interdunal and wetland areas predominate. The northwestern portion of the Site is within the Great Marsh of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore managed by the National Park Service.

The primary current human health risk at the Site is groundwater in the surficial aquifer that is contaminated with metals leached from flyash and bottom ash, referred to as coal combustion by-products (CCBs). CCBs are known to contain boron, molybdenum, arsenic, and other metals. The site includes multiple landfills including the Lawrence Landfill, Pines Landfill, and Yard 520.  The largest source of CCBs is Yard 520, a state-permitted landfill operated by Brown, Inc. located just south of the Town of Pines. The landfill received CCBs from the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) electrical generating plant in Michigan City, Indiana until 2001. In addition, CCBs were hauled from the generating plant to the area and used as roadbed and fill for driveways and residential yards.  Groundwater in the surficial aquifer is a current and potential future source of drinking water. Groundwater in the surficial aquifer is highly vulnerable to contamination as it is unconfined at or near the surface and is made up of materials having high transmissivities to facilitate contaminant movement. This groundwater also discharges either directly or indirectly through drainage ditches to the Great Marsh and/or other wetlands managed for ecological purposes on federal lands within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Therefore the groundwater in the surficial aquifer is also ecologically vital.

From May 2000 to May 2002 EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management responded to resident complaints by sampling over 100 residential drinking water wells in and around the Town of Pines. Results showed boron values up to 16,000 ug/L (micrograms per litre) and molybdenum values up to 950 ug/L. The removal action level for boron and molybdenum in drinking water are 900 ug/L and 10 ug/L, respectively. The sampling also revealed that groundwater flows north from Yard 520, indicating that the landfill is a source of contamination for the area. Samples from Brown Ditch, a surface water body adjacent to the Yard 520 Landfill, showed upstream boron concentrations of 130 ug/L and downstream values of over 13,000 ug/L. In January 2002, IDEM recommended that EPA propose the Site for inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL).

Site Responsibility

This Site is being addressed by potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for the Town of Pines Site (“Site”), including the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Brown Inc., Ddalt Corp., and Bulk Transport Corp., through federal enforcement actions. The PRPs are parties whom EPA has determined may be legally responsible for the Site's contamination.

Threats and Contaminants

The human health risks at the Site are from drinking groundwater contaminated with metals leached from CCBs and from inhaling or ingesting soils containing CCBs that a November 2014 study found contained elevated levels of arsenic. 

The risk from arsenic in soil is to be mitigated via a time critical removal action expected to occur in the summer of 2015.  Investigations of additional properties for the presence of CCBs and elevated metals associated with CCBs is expected to continue into the summer of 2015 as well.

The groundwater risk has been mitigated by providing municipal water and bottled water to those residences that are, or may be, in the area of groundwater contamination.  Other current and future human health and ecological risks from the site groundwater, surface water and soil contamination have been evaluated in the human health and ecological risk assessments.  Groundwater in the surficial aquifer outside of certain fill areas exceeds risk-based standards (e.g., MCLs) and/or poses an unacceptable risk. The groundwater in the surficial aquifer is a current and potential future source of drinking water that is highly vulnerable to contamination and ecologically vital.

Cleanup Progress

On January 24, 2003 EPA and the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs); NIPSCO, Ddalt, Corp., Bulk Transport Corp., and Brown Inc., signed an enforcement agreement (Administrative Order by Consent [AOC]) requiring the PRPs to immediately provide bottled water to residences with groundwater contamination above EPA action levels and to design and construct a permanent municipal drinking water extension to these same residences.  

By June 2005 the PRPs brought Michigan City water to about 270 homes in Pines under the terms of the original AOC and an amended AOC. The PRPs also provided bottled water to approximately 70 additional homes to the south and west of Pines.  In March 2004 EPA and the PRPs signed an AOC requiring a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). The RI/FS is intended to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the Site and any threat caused by the release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants related to Coal Combustion By-products ("CCB") at or from the Site; collect data necessary to adequately characterize, for the purpose of developing and evaluating effective remedial alternatives; and determine and evaluate alternatives for remedial action to prevent, mitigate, control or eliminate risks posed by any release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants related to CCBs at or from the Site.  With the signing of the 2004 AOC EPA initially determined that the Pines Site could be handled as a Superfund Alternative Site and it was not listed on the NPL.

The PRPs installed and sampled groundwater monitoring wells during 2006 and 2007.  Surface water and sediment sampling was conducted in October 2006. Groundwater, surface water, and soil sampling was completed in 2007.  On May 19, 2008 the potentially responsible parties submitted a Remedial Investigation (RI) Report to EPA for review. After reviewing several revisions to the RI Report, EPA issued a letter on May 28, 2010 modifying and approving the March 5, 2010 version of the RI Report.

Human health and ecological risk assessments have been reviewed and modified by EPA.  EPA and IDEM are reviewing the feasiblity study report to evaluate remedial alternatives to address the Site. 

Success Story

EPA mitigated identified human health exposures to the CCB-impacted groundwater by requiring the PRPs to provide municipal or bottled water to residents.

Community Involvement

A Technical Assistance Plan (TAP) required by the 2004 AOC was signed by the PRPs and a community group, "People In Need of Environmental Safety" (PINES). The TAP assists the community by providing funding for PINES to better inform the community and to hire a technical advisor to review and evaluate technical documents. The PINES group hired a technical advisor and provided comments to EPA and information to the community.  The TAP will facilitate continued cleanup progress by encouraging public participation.   

EPA has held public meetings on March 16, 2010; June 14, 2007; April 19, 2005; April 13, 2004; and February 4, 2003 and a public open house on October 12, 2011.  EPA attended two meetings of the Town of Pine's Town Council in early 2015 to discuss the more recent findings of elevated arsenic in soils and expects to participate in a formal public meeting in June 2015.

Congressional Interest

The U.S. Congressional District for the site is the First District of Indiana represented by U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky, and U.S. Senators Daniel Coats and Joe Donnelly.  Both past and current Senators and Representatives have expressed interest in the site.  Recently, Congressman Visclosky's office has been in regular communication with EPA regarding recent developments at the site.  

Property Reuse

The Site area is predominantly residential with some commercial properties in addition to the recreational use of federal lands within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore managed by National Park Service for ecological value among other things. Future land use is expected to be generally consistent with current uses.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
erik hardin (hardin.erik@epa.gov)
(312) 886-2402



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