A Franklin company is working with the state on a plan to remove years-old contamination from its property.
An Indiana Department of Environmental Management investigation found contamination on the property of Reed Manufacturing Services, 1056 Eastview Drive. The investigation was started to trace back contamination that was found in nearby Webb well fields, owned by Indiana American Water Co., which are no longer in use.
Starting in 1988, testing of water from the well fields, which are just east of the site, found the contaminant dichloroethene (DCE) in two of the wells used by Indiana American Water. At times through the 1990s and 2000s, the amount found in the wells before the water was treated exceeded the maximum amount allowed, the report said.
The treated water from the wells always was well below accepted Environmental Protection Agency levels, utility officials said at a community forum this week. The water from the wells was treated and mixed with water from other sources before it was sent out to customers for drinking, cooking and bathing, according to the state investigation and the utility company.
Over the past several years, those well fields were closed and are no longer used by Indiana American Water because of the contamination, new water sources were found and a treatment plant needed significant improvements.
In 2010 and 2012, the state did investigations to try to find the source of contamination and said the Reed property, which was formerly used as a tomato cannery and other businesses, was a likely source.
In groundwater on that property, state testing found tetrachloroethene, or PCE, and trichloroethene, or TCE, which along with DCE are all chlorinated volatile organic compounds. Dichloroethene often is used to produce solvents and in chemical mixtures, according to a fact sheet. Animal testing has shown that high amounts of exposure can lead to impacts on the liver or decreased red blood cells, but the chemical has no known links to cancer, the fact sheet said.
Reed Manufacturing does not use those solvents, but the property in the past was used for different purposes, including the cannery until the 1950s, oil companies, warehousing, tool manufacturing and truck sales, the investigation said. Officials from Reed Manufacturing, which bought the property in 1979, declined to comment and referred questions to their attorney, Dale Eikenberry, who also declined to comment.
The current owner can still be held responsible for cleaning up a property that is contaminated, and Reed Manufacturing has taken that responsibility, said Amy Smith, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
The state’s job is to find out where the contamination comes from and get it cleaned up.
In the past 20 years, the state has conducted 44 contamination investigations in Johnson County and gets 10 to 15 referrals for new investigations statewide every month, Smith said. Not every case requires a cleanup, and currently 19 sites are either being investigated or are being cleaned up in Johnson County, Smith said.
Earlier this year, the state required further investigation of the Reed Manufacturing site, including more monitoring sites. Once all the information is collected, the state will work with the company to finalize a cleanup plan, Smith said.
What exactly that will include has not been decided yet, she said. But a cleanup could involve groundwater treatment to remove pollutants and excavation of impacted soil, she said.
“Once we have all of the data, we will put together a work plan, review and approve it, and make sure we are not missing anything,” Smith said. “Our ultimate goal is to achieve cleanup.”