Monitoring Cleanup at Hartford Iron

Hartford Iron and Metal in Hartford City is undergoing a cleanup mandated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Blackford County Concerned Citizens (BCCC) is worried about the impact Hartford Iron could have on the health of the community. BCCC in partnership with the Hoosier Environmental Council has reviewed more than 3000 pages of documents that are part of the public record. On August 3, 2015, representatives of BCCC and HEC met with IDEM officials to discuss the cleanup. The following is what we have learned.

The first step in the cleanup process was a site assessment that included many soil and water samples. The samples showed that the Hartford Iron property is heavily contaminated with a long list of chemicals including metals like arsenic and lead, volatile organic compounds like benzene, PCBs(polychlorinated biphenyls), and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

  • Arsenic and lead can damage the nervous system
  • Benzene is a carcinogen
  • PCBs can affect the immune system, liver and skin
  • PAHs can affect unborn children and can increase the risk of cancer

Many of the contaminants are present at concentrations many times higher than what is considered safe. Some of the contaminants have been found in water samples taken from shallow bore holes on the site or in storm water running off the site.

Hartford Iron entered into an Agreed Order with IDEM about their cleanup in 2009, and since then a portion of the cleanup has been done.   Three soil piles, where Hartford Iron used to store the most heavily contaminated soil, were removed and taken to appropriate waste facilities in 2010. The center of the property where the PCBs are highest was covered by an asphalt ‘cap’ to hold them in place.   The consulting firm August Mack set up a system to collect and treat storm water that runs across the site, though they have had trouble keeping full control during heavy rain storms.

According to the officials we met with at IDEM, there are several more cleanup steps that are expected in the near future.

  • Soil excavation. The consulting firm CH2M Hill will begin excavating and removing contaminated soil from the south edge of Hartford Iron, east of the Chestnut Street gate.  They are planning to remove soil down to 18 inches and then reassess if they need to dig deeper.  After that, the excavation will be extended to include the entire southeast corner of the property.
  • Ground water. August Mack will install 9 wells to monitor whether contaminants from Hartford Iron are getting into the ground water.
  • Storm water. Another consulting firm, Keramida, will begin installing a more robust and longer lasting solution for treating Hartford Iron storm water before it is released into the sewer system.

If you are worried that dust from Hartford Iron comes into your home or yard, the following steps can reduce your exposure:

  • Wash your hands before eating, drinking, smoking or feeding children
  • Wash children’s hands and faces often, especially before eating
  • Make sure any toy or utensil a child puts in his or her mouth is clean
  • Wet mop floors and wet wipe surfaces frequently to remove dust
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstery
  • Remove shoes when entering the house
  • Wipe dirt off of pets’ feet before they enter the house
  • Keep windows and doors closed when it’s windy
  • If you grow fruits or vegetables, wash them very carefully and peel them, if possible. Also, consider having your garden soil tested
  • Wear gloves when working outside

 

BCCC and HEC will continue monitoring the cleanup process. Our chief concern is the potential impact on the health of the community. If you would like more information, you can contact BCCC at blackfordcoconcernedcitizens@gmail.com .